BC festivals, fairs and community events receive $30 million in provincial funding
British Columbia on Thursday announced a new set of supports for festivals, fairs and community events that it hopes will help offset rising operating costs and help with the post-pandemic recovery.
Lana Popham, BC’s Secretary of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, said a new injection of funds into the British Columbia Festivals, Fairs and Events Fund (BCFFE), established in 2021 to support the safe return of events post COVID-19 , offering $30 million in one-time grants for eligible events.
Funding can cover up to 20 percent of an event’s total budget, up to a maximum of $250,000, and organizations hosting multiple separate events are eligible for up to $500,000.
“Applications for this fund are now open and will be accepted through March 3,” Popham said.
“It’s a quick transaction because we want to get the money out the door.”
The support can be used for operational costs, health and safety measures, venue rentals, hiring and paying staff, and marketing and advertising expenses.
Popham said the money will be available for existing BC events that have hosted previous editions and hope to continue.
Funding is available for events scheduled to take place between April 1, 2023 and December 31, 2024, including sporting events, arts and culture events, community festivals, agricultural fairs and rodeos.
“There is hope now”: President of the music festival
Music festival organizers, returning to hosting in-person events in the wake of the pandemic, said their spending is higher than ever and, without outside help, some high-profile concert series are forced to close.
Merritt, BC’s Rockin’ River Festival and the Squamish Constellation Festival have all said that a 2023 edition is either completely off the table or “highly unlikely”.
The Vancouver Folk Festival Society initially planned to hold a vote on disbanding, but later said a wave of community support after sharing their dire financial situation could potentially save the festival.
Following Thursday’s announcement, Mark Zuberbuhler, president of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival Society, said he was “stunned.” He said it was exciting news for organizers and viewers alike.
“There is hope now,” he said, explaining that while the folk festival has not yet secured a venue or booked artists for 2023, the government’s pledge coupled with community support has reassured organizers that the event will go ahead.
“This announcement puts us on a positive path. And we will work very, very hard to make that happen.”
Funding “critical” for events
In a provincial statement, Cara Haughton, executive director of the Kamloops Exhibition Association and Provincial Winter Fair committee member, said BC fairs have a lot to offer in terms of entertainment and education — especially for families — and she hopes the money will help to make them more sustainable.
“This funding is critical to supporting rural and urban events, both large and small,” said Haughton.
Ahead of Thursday’s announcement, Neil Osborne and his daughter Kandle began a musical performance and played a day in your life And ocean pearl — a couple of classics from Osborne’s Volumes 54-40 from Tsawwassen.