The executive director of the Folk on the Rocks music festival in Yellowknife says it will need additional funding or potentially face what could be a dire future — and it's not alone.
This month, the festival joined others in the live entertainment industry in a show of solidarity by shining a red spotlight on its front gates to raise awareness about the impact COVID-19 has had on live events. The #RedAlert campaign is calling for support from government and community leaders to help keep the industry viable.
"We want to be able to still put on a fantastic festival so we know that we need that additional support from our government in order to do so," said Carly McFadden.
Like many live events around the world, the pandemic led to the cancellation of this year's Folk on the Rocks festival.
"This would have been our 40th year and we want to have another 40 years and more," McFadden said.
"But in order to do that, we'll need some additional funding to make that happen."
Like other events, she said there are ongoing operational costs throughout the year. Festivals, like the one in Yellowknife, are mostly sustained on ticket sales and sponsorships. But with a potential downturn in the economy lingering into next year, McFadden expects ticket sales might be down and sponsors perhaps not in a position to contribute as much as they have in the past.
"If we go through two years in a row where that's down or possibly non-existent, I think us and a lot of other people will be looking at some pretty dire scenarios."
Hundreds out of work
McFadden said the annual summer festival employs a few hundred people, from artists and festival staff, to lighting and sound technicians and food and art vendors.
"And we're a fairly small festival," she said.
On a global scale, she estimates "millions and millions" have been affected.
For now, McFadden is staying positive about the festival going ahead in 2021 and is cautiously optimistic live events will return soon.
"I do want those things to be able to start happening again," she said.
"But I think we all want them to happen in the most safe way possible."