July 26, 2018 2:09 pm
Updated: July 27, 2018 4:03 pm

Calgary International Children’s Festival shuts down after 32 years

WATCH: Calgary International Children's Festival board chair Carri Clarke joins Global News Morning Calgary to discuss the difficult decision to cancel the 2019 festival and begin dissolving the Society after 32 years.


If you attended this year’s Calgary International Children’s Festival, you were among the last people to take part in the annual event.

The festival’s board of directors announced Thursday that tough times have prompted the cancellation of the 2019 event and that they’ve begun to dissolve the Society.

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“Due to a challenging economy, an unsustainable operating model and cost structure and a decrease in available funds, organizers are unable to present a festival that meets the high artistic standards and quality of community outreach that audiences and funders expect and deserve,” officials said in a news release.

READ MORE: Creative Calgary calls for $20M per year in funding for the arts

Board chair Carri Clarke said the festival has been struggling for about five years with the economic downturn and they’ve got to the point where they couldn’t see a way forward.

“We’ve been losing corporate sponsors and we’ve had a difficult time gaining new corporate sponsors, lots of people we’ve targeted before. There’s been mergers and their community investment departments have shrunk, ” Clarke said.

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Clarke said ticket sales had been declining, particularly sales to school boards, which the festival relied on for 65 per cent of its sales. She said raising ticket prices was not an option because the festival was committed to keeping the cost affordable for schools and young families.

The festival also had to be competitive with other attractions popular for school field trips, like the Calgary Zoo, or Telus Spark.  However, the festival only earned about 10 per cent of its revenue from ticket sales, so a price hike would not have filled the revenue gap anyway.

READ MORE: $2M in funding for 10 Calgary arts groups will ‘put wind under our wings’

Clarke is hoping others will be able to fill the void left by the loss of the festival.

“Maybe a new grassroots movement, somebody with some different ideas. It could also involve some of the existing theatre companies or music companies maybe expanding their repertoire and offering more performances, at least to school children, if not the public.

“We’re really hoping this gives an opening for some of those other organizations to step up.

“The Board and Festival staff would like to thank all our supporters who helped us become a vital contributor to the cultural landscape of our community for the last 32 years, becoming the largest presenter of performing arts for children in Calgary,” Clarke said.

READ MORE: Uzume Taiko performs at 2018 Calgary International Children’s Festival

“We would especially like to thank our audience – the thousands of children, parents, grandparents, caregivers, and teachers who have seen our shows and visited our outdoor site over the years,” Clarke added. “Many had their first exposure to the performing arts through the Calgary International Children’s Festival. “


© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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