Edmonton festivals ‘feeling the crunch’ of rising costs, work to break even in 2022 – Edmonton

The festival city is feeling the impacts of inflation, as many Edmonton event-organizers work to balance entertainment with affordability.

Grindstone Comedy Festival wrapped up in early July and programming manager Jocelyn Anselmo said inflation caused pretty much every expense to increase.

“It was quite the hit looking at the budget this year and seeing what we had to make up in ticket sales and revenue with food and beverages,” she explained.

As a non-profit, she said the organization is already working with thin margins.

“Our festivals are affordable. Our ticket prices aren’t over $30 for a show,” she said.

Edmonton Folk Music Festival’s Terry Wickham said his festival is also crunching the numbers.

“We use gas, we use a lot of energy, we use a lot of food. We feed 3,000 people at a sitting six times over the weekend,” he said. “It’s been three years since we’ve run, inflation on food alone at wholesale prices is up 30 percent.”

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Wickham said it’s been helpful that the festival sold-out, returning to Gallagher Park Aug. 4-7 for the first time since 2019.

“We went on sale June 4 so we knew inflation was locked in by then. Unfortunately, we had to become part of the inflation and raised our ticket prices by about ten percent,” he said. “We’re not out here to make a killing, we’re out to make a living.”

He said COVID-19 also remains a challenge, along with travel disruptions for incoming performers.


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“We’re still underpriced and we hope to stay that way,” he said.

The Grindstone’s Anselmo said she expects tighter budgets from both festival-goers and other festival organizers this summer.

“I can’t see anyone not being impacted by this,” she said.

Festival-goer Sherrie Cameron said she believes a particular selling point of many Edmonton events is that they offer low-cost options.

“That’s really important right now. Different people I talk to in the community and myself…we’re feeling the crunch,” she explained from the grounds of the free-entry Edmonton International Street Performers Festival. “[People need] things you can share with your family and community and not have it break your pocketbook.”

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