The B.C. Liberals’ Direct Access arts-funding cuts have claimed another victim: Public Dreams Society’s Parade of Lost Souls. “Provincial funding for us has been cut by 82 percent now,” said Pamela McKeown, the society’s artistic managing director, adding the cuts could go as high as 92 percent.
McKeown estimates the cost to hold the parade in its current form at $100,000, which covers everything from event permits to workshops. Despite nearly 35,000 attendees at the 2008 parade, the society received only $4,500 in donations at boxes held by volunteers around the site. In July of this year, Public Dreams suffered another financial blow when an unexpected lightning storm led to low public participation and fewer on-site donations at its Illuminares Lantern Festival.
The Parade of Lost Souls, which began as a small community parade through alleys surrounding Grandview Park, has grown significantly. Nearly 16,000 people attended the event in 2004, leading to a temporary cancellation of the festival in 2005. It relaunched in 2006, with a traffic-closure on nearby Commercial Drive to help handle the crowds.
“Since we’ve been in a position where we need to close Commercial Drive, it has shifted the event really dramatically,” said McKeown. “The neighbourhood and the community and the business community really support the event”¦but it’s drawing people from all over.”
The parade, which was to have taken place on Saturday (October 24), is meant to honour the dead, but it’s not a Halloween event per se. However, McKeown acknowledges that many people who show up on the Drive are Halloween revellers looking for a party.
“We essentially have more than one show going on,” said McKeown. “I think that this year is a time for us to sit back and think about how we’re going to unite the solitudes at the event.”
The Parade of Lost Souls could be resurrected in 2010, depending on corporate sponsorship and funding from other levels of government. Anyone wanting to donate can do so through Web site under the ”Volunteer/Donate” page or call 604-879-8611.
The next event for Public Dreams Society is next February’s LunarFest. This celebration of the Lunar New Year is a partnership event with a number of organizations, including the Asian-Canadian Special Events Association and National Taiwanese Craft Research Institute (Taiwan).
Follow Miranda Nelson on Twitter @charenton_.