Winnipeg Folk Festival hits bright notes as dollar hits rock bottom
Organizers say they are finding creative ways to cut costs
Organizers of the Winnipeg Folk Festival refuse to sing the blues over the drop of the Canadian dollar and are adapting instead to getting less bang for their American buck by banding together with festivals south of the border.
American acts, which make up half of the Winnipeg festival's booking budget, get paid with American dollars. The festival's artistic director said he's networking with American music festivals to pick certain acts they all want, then put in an offer.
"The agents and the managers love it because we're doing a lot of the work for them, to set up these small tours that eventually end up being full summer tours," said Chris Frayer, artistic director for the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
"It's really great, it brings down the fees," he said, adding that he collaborates with festivals all the way from mid-western United States to California.
The teamwork with American music festivals has significantly reduced the amount of costly 'one-offs' the Winnipeg Folk Fest books, which are bands that come north for one gig and whose way is paid to and from their home city, Frayer said.
It also helps that the Winnipeg Folk Festival is as well known as it is, said Frayer.
"We have a couple really great big bands coming from California this year, that are coming all the way here because they just want to play the festival," he said, while refusing to reveal any of the bands he's booked.
He says unlike the MTS center, which has gigs all year round, he has all year to plan the festival.
And while he admits working within the confines of the weakened Canadian dollar has been challenging, it won't have an effect on the music.
"Our audience will not notice anything to do with the depreciation of the dollar in terms of the quality of the programming of the festival this year," he said.
"It just means I have to work a little bit harder behind the scenes."
The lineup is already booked for the 43rd festival.
"It's our job at the festival that the audience doesn't have to be concerned [with] the dollar. The audience has to be concerned about having a good time and feeling that their time and money was well spent by coming to the event," he said.
The lineup will be released in March.