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Treefort Becomes First Benefit Corporation Music Festival

Treefort Music Fest started working on their B Corp certification in 2014.

Boise's Treefort Music Fest is stepping out under a new business model. According to a press release Friday, the music festival received Benefit Corporation (B Corp) certification this summer, becoming the first and only music festival with that status. B Corporations are for-profits where shareholders adhere to missions that include transparency, positive social impact on local communities and environmental consciousness.

As the B Corp website puts it, the designation is like what "Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk."

Unlike many arts organizations in town, Treefort producer Lori Shandro Outen says her team didn't want to form a nonprofit. They began looking into the B Corp model after the festival's third year in 2014. The festival broke even financially for the first time last year. As they prep for the fest's fifth year this March, Outen says the business model is the right fit for Treefort.

"This process, and its end result filled our needs, both from a values based perspective and a business perspective. Further, because of the influential nature of the music industry, we felt that we had an opportunity to shine a light on the responsibility any business has to identify and represent its stakeholders, not just its shareholders." - Lori Shandro Outen, Treefort producer

The festival relies heavily on volunteers to put together a cross-genre five-day annual event. Treefort was named the city's Cultural Ambassador for the second year in a row, which comes with a $25,000 grant.  This year, organizers raised ticket prices for the spring festival as they look toward financial sustainability.

Read more about B Corps here.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

Copyright 2015 Boise State Public Radio

Frankie Barnhill was the Senior Producer of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show and podcast.