Vancouver Island MusicFest advanced last weekend on two important and related fronts.
Nothing against previous lineups and the many brilliant performers who have annually graced the six VIMF stages, but the 2012 festival was an artistic triumph.
Legends such as Emmylou Harris and k.d. lang are also huge magnets for fans.
Lesser drawing cards such as Buffy Sainte-Marie, Richard Thompson and Laurie Anderson nonetheless have devoted fan bases, and their presence gives MusicFest an artistic presence that cannot be underestimated.
Music director Doug Cox — himself a touring musician — typically fleshed out the roster with a deep and rich international lineup that ensured music lovers would be satisfied, if not amazed, even when they weren’t listening to a headliner.
MusicFest’s commercial success this year was even more remarkable.
Although the festival previously sold out for individual days, every last 2012 ticket was purchased for all three days. Cox even had the unenviable task of telling some performers there were no tickets left for their spouses.
In a difficult economic climate, selling out is an astounding feat.
More than 60 per cent of ticket buyers were from outside the Comox Valley this year, and a significant portion were from outside B.C.
Word is spreading among performers and fans about the little festival efficiently run by friendly people in our gorgeous part of the world.
Another thing that cannot be underestimated is the economic spinoffs this generates.
The Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce knew for weeks that all local hotels and B&Bs were fully booked for the weekend, notes president and CEO Dianne Hawkins. Besides accommodation, visitors buy meals and spend money in various ways on and off the site.
The Comox Valley Youth Music Centre, Filberg Festival, Big Time Out and other artistic draws also contribute to the local economy.
The arts are good for business.