One Reel Productions, the company that produces Seattle's Bumbershoot festival and the July Fourth fireworks at Lake Union, laid off more than half the staff in its festivals division last week. The layoffs came after two tough years for Bumbershoot, said Executive Director Jon Stone.

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One Reel Productions, the company that produces Seattle’s Bumbershoot festival and the July Fourth fireworks at Lake Union, laid off more than half the staff in its festival division last week.

Jon Stone, the nonprofit’s executive director, said the biggest impact from the loss of eight of the division’s 14 employees will be felt “behind the scenes.” Those eight positions will become seasonal jobs, he said.

The layoffs came after two tough years for Bumbershoot, Stone said. Bad weather, a poor economy and a new ticketing system this year all contributed to decreases in attendance.

This year, about 35,000 people attended the festival each day of the three-day Labor Day weekend, compared with the average daily attendance over the years of 40,000 to 50,000, he said. This year, ticket prices ranged from $30 to $450, so the low turnout meant losing tens of thousands of dollars.

The all-day rain on Labor Day didn’t help ticket sales this year. Weather was a big factor last year, too, when fewer than 100,000 tickets sold for the entire weekend, compared with 125,000 tickets sold in 2008. Stone said it was the rainiest Labor Day Weekend he’d seen in 40 years.

“It was an absolutely phenomenal washout,” he said.

Sponsorship has been down, too, by 50 percent. “That’s the economy talking,” Stone said.

Then, there was the new ticket system offered this year — more expensive standard tickets for the main-stage shows and cheaper economy tickets with limited access.

The economy tickets flopped.

Stone said he was “stunned” by how poorly the tickets sold. That ticket system will change for next year, though Stone doesn’t yet know how.

The company’s events and venues, Bumbershoot, Lake Union’s Family Fourth celebration and dinner cabaret Teatro ZinZanni, won’t see many changes, Stone said. Still, the staff reduction will require some “refocusing.”

“We’ll just keep doing what we do with a little less for the time being,” he said.

Carly Flandro: 206-464-2108 or cflandro@seattletimes.com