Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. The three-day music festival has been cancelled for 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Black Press file photo.

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. The three-day music festival has been cancelled for 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Black Press file photo.

Vancouver Island MusicFest cancelled for 2021

Vancouver Island MusicFest has been shelved for 2021, due to the pandemic.

Executive producer Doug Cox said they held off on the decision for as long as possible, but the cancellation of the popular Comox Valley event was inevitable.

“It is actually a bit of a relief to finally come to this decision,” said Cox. “We have been waiting, as the world has, to see what is going to happen. But we have had a lot of discussions, and even if we are allowed to go ahead with it, would we feel comfortable doing it? The answer is no. Not this year. Even if we were allowed to do it, how much of our audience would feel comfortable coming out to a festival with their families?

“So, it sucks, but… we are doing the right thing for the community.”

Many of the ticket holders from the cancelled 2020 event had opted to roll their tickets over for the 2021 event, as opposed to receiving a refund. Cox said his staff has reached out to all those who had done that, and the majority of those who have replied asked if they could simply roll their tickets over again, for the 2022 festival.

“We are planning an online event for this summer, for the same weekend the festival was to happen, and we originally told the ticket holders they could use their tickets for the online event, but the response was so overwhelming of people saying ‘could we please just use it for 2022’ that we changed our minds and said we could do that,” said Cox. “That was actually really lovely. People were so positive about the whole thing. There was no negativity at all.

“So we are taking all that money from the 2020 tickets and putting it, basically, in lockdown until the 2022 (planning starts).”

Cox said details of the online festival will emerge soon. It will run on the July 9-11 weekend – the same weekend as the live festival was scheduled.

“One of the cool things about our online festival this year is that we are teaming up with the Ministry of Tourism and we will be shooting performances at key spots all over the Comox Valley, and those will be featured, as will the Comox Valley, throughout the whole weekend.”

In the meantime, the Island MusicFest office on Cousins Avenue has been shut down and all staff has been temporarily laid off.

“We are all kind of taking a sabbatical, just to save some money,” said Cox. “We will be active and still doing a few things online, and we will kick back in, as for staff, later on in the year, in the fall. I want people to know that we are doing what we have to do to keep the organization alive.”

ALSO: $500,000 in additional funds available to struggling B.C. musicians amid COVID pandemic


terry.farrell@blackpress.ca
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