After two years of events being cancelled or held virtually, two local music festivals will be cranking up the decibels live and in-person this year.
Vancouver Island Music Fest and Cumberland Wild will be back this summer. Funding from the provincial government will be aiding their return to the Comox Valley, with $18,500 and $28,000 being given respectively.
The funds are being welcomed by the events, who say the last two years haven’t been easy and they had to get creative.
Sue Wood, marketing director for Vancouver Island Music Fest, says while they had to cancel the 2020 festival, they were able to bring it back for 2021 in a different format.
“We had the virtual version for each year following the cancellation,” said Wood. “This year in 2022 we are back live, in-person with 10,000 people on the site and 40-plus bands.”
The funding is being given to the festivals by Amplify BC and is part of $2.5 million being given to festivals and music companies in the province.
Wood says the $18,500 is combined with a $214,000 stabilizing fund, which will help them start on a better foundation covering operational costs.
She adds the $1.2 million festival generates around four times the amount it costs to run and benefits the community with tourism. The patrons have added to this benefit.
“Those people who come to the festival year over year have supported us by rolling their tickets from one year to the next,” she said. “Many people have donated the cost of the ticket and have repurchased tickets.”
Cumberland Wild also faced difficulties during the pandemic and was not able to run. The creative director of Cumberland Village Works, who produces Cumberland Wild, Vig Schulman, says the funding will be used for employment to get the operation running.
“It’s a challenge to produce these events at the best of times in terms of the people management, the infrastructure, things everywhere else are costing more,” said Schulman. “It’s a cumulative thing, so we’re working really hard to make this happen.”
He adds they appreciate the grant, and those behind it for advocating for minorities in the music scene.
Schulman says they will have some changes for social distancing but will be close to what the festival was a few years ago.
“While we do have camping, we’ve decided to minimize the impact on the village itself, just in terms of we are appealing more to the Comox Valley audience,” said Schulman. “That’s from a health perspective. It’s pretty hard to manage campsites safely and so we were a little concerned about the potential COVID restrictions we’d have to put in.”
Both festivals are looking forward to the return of live music to the area and the ability for people to listen and dance to groups from all over the world.
Tickets can be found on their websites.