Tools of the trade at the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Photo by Terry Farrell

COVID-19 forces cancellation of Vancouver Island MusicFest

Announcement regarding tickets forthcoming

The news Vancouver Island MusicFest executive producer Doug Cox was expecting came down Saturday morning.

At her April 18 COVID-19 update, B.C.’s provincial health officer announced the social restrictions in place would not be lifted in time for any large-scale events this summer.

“Realistically, we will not be having those big events where people gather together this summer,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a news conference. “This is a challenging time around our world and it’s not going to be easy for us to get out of it, but those types of large, mass-gatherings where we have lots of people together, this is not the time for that.”

RELATED: COVID-19 precautions pull summer events off the table

And with that, Cox turned to Plan B.

“For the last month or so, we’ve been preparing two plans – one for the festival to go as scheduled (July 10-12), and one in case of cancellation,” he said.

So, what is Plan B?

“Now that we have cancelled the festival, we have to deal with the fallout from all that – dealing with the ticket-buyers, all the suppliers, sponsors, cancelling all the performers,” said Cox.

As for ticket-holders, Cox said there will be an announcement forthcoming.

“We will be sending out an announcement in the next few days.”

Apart from the logistical challenge MusicFest management faces in the days and weeks ahead, Cox said the toughest thing is simply accepting the reality of the situation.

“We are devastated,” he said. “Our biggest thrill for so many of the staff that put on the festival are those set-up days, when people are at the site, watching everybody arrive, watching the team come together to build the ‘town’ of MusicFest. So many people look forward to that all year. Aside from the music and the financial impact and all of that stuff, that’s the heartbreaking part, is to know we are not going to have that celebration this year.”

Cox added that even before the government intervention, it was becoming clear in the past few weeks that this year’s event would not be possible.

“When you look at our own responsibility when it comes to the health of our patrons and our volunteers – we have a kids’ area, we have a kitchen that feeds 2,000 people a day, we have a campground of 4,000 people, we have people travelling from all over the world to get here – it’s just impossible,” he said. “It would simply be the wrong decision for us to proceed with the festival this year.”

Although Henry made the announcement at her daily briefing Saturday, there has yet to be an official directive from the government, regarding the process to be followed for such events.

While Cox expects to hear of a relief program set up through the federal government to ease the financial burden of such a cancellation, he appreciates that’s not a top priority for the government, at the moment.

“Really, this is tough, but there are no sour grapes,” he said. “I am so proud to be a Canadian, in terms of how our government has tried very hard to support everyone.”



terry.farrell@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirusmusic festivals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Children’s author hopes public can grant father’s wish to see work in Abbotsford library

Dawn Doig’s father recently died from COVID-19 after staying at Worthington Pavilion

Fraser Valley Regional Library branches offer curbside pick up

After two and a half months of being closed, people can once again check books out of the library

Survey asks Mission businesses: ‘What PPE do you need most to re-open?’

Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce helping businesses to source PPE locally

Middle school students honoured with G.W. Cooke awards

Mission Community Foundation hands out awards for excellence in Math or Science

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the world of summer sports

In a typical year, there are plenty of summer sporting events and tournaments held across Canada

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The importance of accurate, ethical reporting is critical – perhaps as never before

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Police watchdog investigating death of man in Delta

Independent Investigations Office asking for witnesses to May 29 incident at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Most Read