Low ticket sales put future of Vancouver International Children's Festival in jeopardy
If ticket sales for the 2011 Vancouver International Children’s Festival don’t improve, this year will mark the festival’s last. That was the urgent warning given today at a news conference by the festival’s board chair, Tom Stulberg, and executive director, Katharine Carol.
In a plea for support, Stulberg explained that after 34 years, the festival’s mounting deficit, the result of federal and provincial funding cuts, have increased the festival’s deficit to $140,000.
“We are sitting with a cumulative loss from the previous two years of extreme government cuts, in my opinion, that is going to kill us,” said Stulberg. “Our debt is over twice our line of credit. We have enough money to produce a show this year and do a great job. But unless we sell more than the 60 percent of seats we budgeted, we won’t have enough money to meet the demands moving into the fall and spring of next year.”
In a cost-cutting measure, the festival was relocated to Granville Island this year, a move which appears to have scared off the ticket-buying public.
“As a result of our move, we are seeing lower than expected pick-up on ticket sales,” said Stulberg. “Without ticket sales we truly are doomed.”¦ So far, we’ve sold only 50 percent of our seats. We need to get that number as close to 100 percent as possible.”¦ If we can sell 100 percent of our seats we can pay off 40 percent of our debt. And that is what we need to guarantee stability and sustainability in the future.”
He added: “If we can convince 1,000 people to donate 100 each, then we’re out of the woods.”
Carol noted that the festival was only notified yesterday (May 18) that it would be receiving 50 percent of the gaming grant money it had received in previous years.
“A 50-percent loss impacts our ability to decrease our deficit, as our fundraising efforts now continue to be focused on covering our presentation expenses rather than taking care of our deficit,” she said.
“I would like to personally invite residents of the lower mainland who love this festival to come out and support us,” urged Carol. “Purchase tickets, purchase a festival site pass or make a donation. If we can sell all our tickets this year we’ll put the festival in a stronger position to deal with our deficit and continue to move forward into the future.”
She added that the number of available seats on Granville Island is half what there was at Vanier Park. “We have 50 percent less tickets to sell,” she explained. “The festival has traditionally sold around 70 to 80 percent of its tickets. So to sell 100 percent of them is not as unrealistic as it potentially sounds. ”
Festival tickets can be purchased at www.childrensfestival.ca.