The federal government is contributing $80,000 to support the next two editions of Vancouver Island MusicFest, and year-round programming by the Comox Valley Folk Society.
The non-profit society will receive $40,000 for the 2014/15 and 2015/16 fiscal years.
“Government recognizes that arts, culture and heritage are important generators of economic growth, jobs and wealth,” Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan said in a Friday announcement at Simms Millennium Park. “This supports jobs right here in our community, and generates economic activity for the region…The Vancouver Island MusicFest is a cornerstone event. We are happy to be part of it.”
The announcement was music to the ears of Doug Cox, the festival’s artistic director and executive producer, who acknowledged government’s recognition of the “work we do as ambassadors for diverse music,” both homegrown and abroad.
“We have a huge economic impact here,” Cox said. “We’re recognized as one of the top festivals on the national and international festival scene.”
Studies conducted at the Winnipeg Folk Fest indicate that every dollar invested in a festival brings five dollars back to a community.
Cox said less than five per cent of the festival’s million-dollar operating budget is funded, about 80 per cent federal and 20 per cent provincial. Federal funds have helped the festival initiate a music-in-the-schools program.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of MusicFest, which runs July 11-13 at the fairgrounds. Bonnie Raitt is among the headliners. In addition to the festival, the folk society will present a concert series this year and next.
Formed in 1995, the Comox Valley Folk Society is committed to ensuring culturally diverse programming. Performances feature aboriginal and Francophone artists, along with hip hop, rap, blues and folk music.
“We are proud to support the excellent work of the Comox Valley Folk Society,” Duncan said. “Festivals and cultural events play an important part in sustaining the economic future of Canadian communities.”