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

Our View: Province needs to crack down on COVID-spreading events

Illicit parties and rule-breaking gatherings need to be stopped

Many questions for Langley teachers as return to school approaches

Immune-compromised teachers are among those waiting to hear about plans

Summerset keeping ‘live music alive’ with weekly outdoor concerts at Fort Langley eatery

Sundays in August will see a ticketed audience of no more than 50 seated with social distance

Postcards from kids in Aldergrove to uplift isolated seniors amidst COVID

United Way launched Intergenerational Postcard Club in August, matching up kids with older pen pals

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Conservation seizes fawn illegally kept captive in Vancouver Island home

A Comox Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

35,000 doses of fentanyl part of huge Maple Ridge bust

Largest seizure in RCMP detachment’s history included submachine gun, body armour

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Most Read