Founded in 1978, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival has been a unique community-based celebration internationally renowned for presenting the finest traditional and contemporary folk and roots music from around the world. As a non-profit operation, the festival has always relied upon ticket sales, member-donations, and community fundraising to cover the costs of producing their annual state-of-the-art three-day music event. 

The Vancouver Folk Music Festival Society (VFMFS) have announced that they will not be moving ahead with a festival in 2023. Further, in light of many post-COVID changes to the production-landscape, the Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to hold a membership vote to dissolve the VFMFS. This vote will happen on February 1, 2023 at the Society’s Annual General Meeting in Vancouver.

Mark Zuberbuhler, the VFMF’s Board President explains, “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.”

On top of costs continuing to rise, we are also facing new financing challenges which makes the production of the festival unsustainable,” Zuberbuhler explains: “For example, many of our vendors now require payment up-front which our cash flow does not allow for. With today’s pricing, we would require an additional $500k in funding every year to produce the festival, which is unfortunately not realistic or sustainable for our organization.”

Given these difficulties and the current financial position of the Society, the VFMFS Board of Directors has regrettably agreed on a recommendation to Members that the Society should cease operations by the end of March 2023 to help ensure the Society meets its fiduciary obligations. The Board of Directors will ask eligible Members to vote on dissolution of the festival on Wednesday, February 1 at their AGM.

Says Board Vice President Philip (FiL) Hemming, “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. 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. We are extremely grateful to our audience, funders, volunteers and staff who have made the festival happen through the years.”

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.