After more than four decades, the iconic Vancouver Folk Music Festival appears poised to pack up its tents for good.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the festival said it was cancelling its 2023 event, and was asking members to permanently wind down the Vancouver Folk Music Festival Society at its annual general meeting next month.
“After two years of COVID-related shut-downs, 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,” festival board president Mark Zuberbuhler said.
Zuberhueler said along with rising costs, the festival also faced new financing issues including vendors demanding up-front payments, “which our cash flow does not allow.”
He estimated the festival would need about $500,000 up front pre-festival every year.
Society members will be asked to vote Feb. 1 on winding the organization down by March to ensure it can meet all its financial 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,” board vice-president Philip Hemming said in the statement.
“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.”
The Vancouver Folk Music Festival was founded in 1978, and has become a three-day summer fixture at the city’s Jericho Beach Park.
The festival typically includes contemporary folk and roots artists from Canada and around the world, to perform for about 40,000 spectators at multiple stages.