British Columbia

Vancouver Folk Festival is back on after 'huge outpouring' of support and donations, organizers say

After the Vancouver Folk Festival's January announcement that it would be dissolving due to financial challenges from the pandemic and mounting costs, its board announced Tuesday afternoon the event will be going ahead after all.

Festival board says event will go ahead July 14-16, lineup yet to be announced

Organizers announced Tuesday the Vancouver Folk Festival is back on this summer in the city.
The Vancouver Folk Music Festival takes place at Jericho Beach, framed by the ocean and the North Shore mountains. (Richard Scorie/VFMF)

After the board of the Vancouver Folk Festival announced in January it would be dissolving due to financial challenges brought on by the pandemic and mounting production costs, the Folk Fest Board announced Tuesday afternoon the event will be going ahead after all.

The news comes after the festival put cancellations plans on hold when a number of investors stepped up. Last month, the province also announced the creation of a $30-million fund to provide one-time grants of up to $250,000 to fairs, festivals, and other qualifying events.

"Last month's funding announcement by the B.C. government was a game-changer for the festival," said folk festival board president Erin Mullan in a written statement.

"This new funding, combined with the strong support of our other funders, partners, other festivals, and the community at large, means we can hold a 2023 festival."

In an interview with CBC's On The Coast, Mullan added the "huge outpouring of support and donations" from supporters helped.

"All of this really changed things for us to make it possible to go forward."

She also said the organizers who applied to the B.C. government for funding are waiting to hear how much they will receive. While it won't cover the total cost of the festival, Mullan said, with the help of the donations, it would place them in a good position to move ahead.

She added the festival will be smaller this year and that they will proceed carefully and cautiously.

"We have to be really secure financially to make sure that this is a sustainable festival for the long-term and we can go another 45 years," Mullan said.

Organizers said the event will go ahead July 14 to 16, although they have not announced the lineup yet.

They advise fans to keep an eye out on their website for updates.

'Rite of passage for local musicians'

Two-time Juno Award-winning Vancouver musician Dan Mangan said he was happy to hear about the festival's return.

He described the Folk Fest as a place for new local musicians to perform, and also to meet other artists. 

"The Folk Fest has always been ... this sort of rite of passage for local musicians," Mangan said in an interview with CBC News.

A man is pictured holding a guitar and singing into a mic.
Award-winning Vancouver-based musician Dan Mangan says he's happy to hear about the festival's return. (Dan Mangan/YouTube)

"I loved performing at the Folk Festival, but I think some of my favourite moments of Folk Festival have been where I've met and performed with other musicians," he added.

"Relationships have carried on, you know, throughout my 20-year career."

Vancouver Folk Music Festival Society president Erin Mullan speaks with Belle Puri about what it took to get the festival back on track after it looked like it was over.

With files from On The Coast and Eva Uguen-Csenge