Saturday, February 4, 2023

It appears to be the end of an era for the Vancouver Folk Music Festival

In addition to cancelling the 2023 festival, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival Society will hold a vote on February 1 recommending a permanent dissolution. 

The Vancouver Folk Music Festival Society (VFMFS) announced that it will not be moving ahead with a festival in 2023 and will hold a membership vote on February 1 to dissolve the VFMFS permanently.

“The Vancouver Folk Fest has been a part of the fabric of the city for decades, and it’s been an incredibly emotional and hard decision for the board to recommend that the festival end.” – Philip Hemming

“After two years of COVID-related shut-downs, we came back in 2022 to find the festival environment greatly changed,” says the festival’s board chair Mark Zuberbuhler in a media release. “Many of our service providers and suppliers had completely disappeared, which necessitated herculean efforts and massively increased costs just to cover the basics of production, like stage, fencing, and tents. We had a great festival, but we did not break even.”

Zuberbuhler says that in addition to the rising costs of putting on the festival, many vendors now require payment up-front. “With today’s pricing, we would require an additional $500k in funding every year to produce the festival, which is unfortunately not realistic or sustainable for our organization.”

Given these difficulties and the festival’s current financial position, in addition to cancelling this year’s festival, the VFMFS board of directors agreed on a recommendation that it should cease operations by the end of March 2023 to help ensure it can meet its fiduciary obligations.

“The Vancouver Folk Fest has been a part of the fabric of the city for decades, and it’s been an incredibly emotional and hard decision for the board to recommend that the festival end,” says festival board vice president Philip Hemming. “We looked for ways to continue, but in the end, none of the available options worked. It’s been an incredible 45 years, and we wish to conclude well with our bills paid. We are extremely grateful to our audience, funders, volunteers and staff who have made the festival happen through the years.”

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