Important Festival Update

Dear Vancouver Folk Music Festival Community,

We are writing to you today with some very sad and difficult news about our beloved festival. As many of you will have read in our newsletter last month, our team came up against many challenges as they worked hard to put the festival together in 2022. Coming back after two years of COVID-restriction-related cancellations, we found that the environment in which we were operating had dramatically changed.

From long-time suppliers being out of business, to cost increases, to many providers now requiring payment up front, it was a herculean task to produce the 2022 festival. In fact, we were only able to produce the event because of special COVID-relief grants that were available to organizations like ours last year.

As our staff set about the work of preparing for the summer of 2023, we have been confronted with the reality that our VFMF Society simply does not have the resources to produce an event this year. The costs of the event, the cash-flow requirements, and our very limited budget for staff simply make it impossible. We postponed the decision for as long as we could as we strove to find a solution, but are at a point now where, even if the funding were to appear, we would not have time to pull the event together.

Since we will not be producing a festival this summer, we do not have the capacity to retain our two staff-people and have had to give them notice of lay-off. Having fought for the festival for so long, they appreciate the challenges and are understanding of the decision.

What about the future?
Unfortunately, the challenges that are preventing us from being able to move ahead with a festival in 2023 truly appear to be the “new normal” going forward. To proceed with an annual festival, we would require an additional $500,000 (estimated) up-front every year. We have determined that there is not enough grant or sponsorship funding available to support this budget increase, nor could our community sustain the increase in ticket prices that would be necessary to close the gap.

In light of these difficult realities, the Board will be asking the members to approve a resolution to dissolve the Society at our upcoming AGM on February 1, 2023. Official notice of the meeting is being sent out today to all members who are eligible to attend.*

The Board knows that for a lot of us the festival is a highlight of every summer and the weekend has become a part of the fabric of our community. We understand that this will be heartbreaking news for many and that you may have some questions. If you have questions, please read through the prepared FAQ. We want to be as transparent as possible about the factors which brought us to the point of proposing the resolution to dissolve the Society. If you have questions that remain unanswered please direct them to info@thefestival.bc.ca. If you are a member of the media, you can view our press release here.

To all of the festival’s amazing staff, volunteers, members, artists, and attendees: thank you for being a part of our 45 years of magic and celebration.

Yours sincerely, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival Board

*If you have not received your AGM notice by January 19, please email info@thefestival.bc.ca to confirm your membership status and contact information.