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Short $500K, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival calls it quits, possibly forever

Organizers say they don’t have the funding or staff to get the annual event off the ground
Vancouver Folk Music Festival organizers say they don’t have the funds to run the annual event in 2023. They’ll ask their membership on Feb. 1 to vote on whether to end the festival forever. (Vancouver Folk Music Festival/Instagram)

The Vancouver Folk Music Festival may be gone for good.

Organizers said Tuesday (Jan. 17) they’ve held off on cancelling this year’s event for as long as possible in hopes that more funds would come through, but that they simply don’t have the money or staff to make things happen.

“After two years of COVID-related shutdowns, we came back in 2022 to find the festival environment greatly changed. 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,” the festival’s board president Mark Zuberbuhler said in a statement.

Zuberbuhler said it’s not just that costs have increased though, but that many vendors now require payment up-front, before the festival has had a chance to earn money from ticket sales.

“With today’s pricing, we would require an additional $500,000 in funding every year to produce the festival, which is unfortunately not realistic or sustainable for our organization.”

Zuberbuhler said even if the extra half million suddenly did appear this year, it would now be too late for them to organize things in time for summer.

The board of directors has decided to recommend to its members that they permanently end the festival. They’ll have a chance to vote at their annual general meetings on Feb. 1.

“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. We looked for ways to continue, but in the end, none of the available options worked,” board vice president Philip Hemming said.

The folk festival has run in Vancouver for 45 years.

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media after starting as a community reporter in Greater Victoria.
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