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Bluesfest takes over Folkfest- Ottawa News!

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This is very interesting..... A new site, new vision and some much needed cash!

In what amounts to a friendly takeover, Ottawa Bluesfest has bailed out the financially troubled Ottawa Folk Festival.

The Citizen has learned that the surprise move, instigated by Ottawa Bluesfest executive and artistic director Mark Monahan, means the Folkfest will likely move from its current location at Britannia Park.

Monahan says the site is too remote and too difficult to reach by public transport, but won’t reveal which alternate site he has in mind.

That decision will be made within the next six weeks.

Monahan is promising an infusion of cash that will double the $150,000-$200,000 the Folk Festival now spends on artist fees.

The Folk Festival will continue to be staged the third weekend in August.

A signature aspect of the Folk Festival are workshops where musicians sit informally with each other swapping tunes and communing with audience members.

Those will stay, promises Monahan, who sees the deal as a win-win.

“The debt was hampering them to the point where they couldn’t make good decisions,†he told the Citizen Thursday.

“You have to be able to invest in talent. This will be good for both festivals and two great festivals will be good for the community.â€

A vote by the Folk Festival board of directors Wednesday night sealed the deal, which has been in negotiation for about three weeks in a series of half a dozen meetings.

Folkfest board member Bob Ledrew told the Citizen Thursday that the festival had tried numerous ways to get out of its financial hole, but none came close to offering the financial stability that the Bluesfest deal has.

“This way we can take the festival where we all want to take it without walking a financial tightrope,†he said. “If we were to move forward without this, we would have needed everything to go right for six or seven years to have any hope of being a stable financial situation.â€

Three Folkfest board members will stay with the festival with four current Bluesfest board members joining.

Monahan will have no official title other than “festival adviser,†but will be involved in both the business and artistic aspects of the Folk Festival.

In return, the Bluesfest will pay off the Folk Festival’s debt, which is in excess of $150,000 — a loan with no fixed repayment date.

Monahan says the new Folkfest board will be considering numerous cross-promotional ideas, including the possibility of one pass for both festivals.

The Folk Festival will certainly get high-visibility promotion during the July Bluesfest.

Until this year, the Folk Festival had enjoyed two relatively successful years with brisk advance sales driven by Rufus Wainwright in 2008 and Bruce Cockburn in 2009.

Both those years were boosted by good weather that typically increases last-minute day pass sales.

By comparison, the 2010 version was a disaster, both financially and naturally.

The lack of a crowd-pulling headline act resulted in poor festival pass sales — fewer than 400 — and the Britannia site was saturated on the final Sunday by a day of torrential rain, effectively killing chances of a financial boost from last-minute ticket sales.

Monahan, who has developed the July Bluesfest into one of North America’s most successful music festivals, has promised to maintain the ethic of the Folk Festival, which prides itself in the promotion of humanitarian, educational and environmental causes and a grassroots approach to music.

The Ottawa Folk Festival in its current incarnation was founded in 1994 as a one-day event at Victoria Island and moved to Britannia the following year as a two-day event.

Financial problems have plagued the festival and it narrowly escaped collapse in 1996 before heading into a few years of relative stability.

While no acts have yet been considered, Monahan says artists at the level of Lyle Lovett would be a good illustration of what Folk Festival goers might expect next summer.

“Musicians who could sell out Southam Hall at the National Arts Centre,†he said.

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/Bridge+over+troubled+water+Bluesfest+takes+over+Folkfest/3815335/story.html#ixzz1552R6fNi'>http://www.ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/Bridge+over+troubled+water+Bluesfest+takes+over+Folkfest/3815335/story.html#ixzz1552R6fNi


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I'd like to see it in Confederation Park with a similar layout to Jazz Fest.

The loss of the Hall Stage (inside 'theatre') could be a big one no matter where we end up.....unless its at the War Museum/ Bluesfest site.

But in that case I think the site is far too large to keep the 'small fest' feel that meggo (and many) enjoy.

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There was a discussion two years ago about using property near Mooneys Bay also. Apparently between that site and a piece of property nearby owned by the experimental farm a full site exists.

I am very hazy on these details- it was only two quick meetings and then the whole thing got scrapped because of HOPE.

Also several people voiced concerns over public transit to that site not being that much better than the current location.

The city deserves to lose this festival over its astronomical rental rates for the Brittania site....

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it would be fine at war museum site if they just use the backside of the venue - black sheep stage, other stage with the hill, inside theatre.......

I think that is a great idea. It keeps the river in the scene but doesn't give too many acres to spread our patrons over so it won't seem empty.

For those that don't know Bluesfest has been 'helping' the Folk Fest for some time- just not financially up to this point. Mark has provided lots of great insight and knowledge to the staff at the OFF and never played hardball with them as though they were a competitor. How many festivals do you know that allow another to come to their event and pass out handbills for event promotion?

The comments over at the Citizen make me laugh. I can't believe how many people still want Bluesfest to just be Blues? :doh:

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Crazy news!

Feeling kind of torn on this one, as much as I'm happy that the Folkfest is no longer in debt I am worried about what this could mean for our small but mighty festival.

The current location is a pain to get to, no doubt, but once you're there it is the best music venue in town. Leaving Britania for the sake of convience sucks but it is the most logical change to increase attendence. Confed park would be my first choice but it lacks a certain intimacy that Britannia offers, so I dunno.

Dylan's lineup was great this year, awesome new direction. Hopefully in the new paradigm Dylan is still in control of artist programming and with the new influx of Bluesfest cash at his dissposal, hopefully we can really strive to match Hillside and then surpass it with even more international talent.

Moving it downtown also opens it up to a lot of new rules such as the curfew bylaw and the noise bylaw. Two things that weren't so rigid in Brittania, due to the inclusion of the surrounding neigborhood.

In the end, can it really be a bad thing to have another world class music festival in town? No of course not but Folkfest is pretty damn special and it would be a shame to lose that magic.

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[color:purple]Ouch and wow.

My apologies for hurting and surprising you. I must be remembering something incorrectly.

Like this?:

FYI I spoke with Mark Monohan yesterday and he confirmed that the Lips will be doing Dark Side.

I had this to offer iirc:

I'm not "mad" at Bluesfest' date=' I just don't like their tactics sometimes.

They could have announced these Market shows at another time, instead of one hour after the Folk Fest lineup.

The rest of the post is just expressing exasperation with the Govt who gave one fuckload of a lot of money to an organization that does not NEED it (you could hold three FULL folk fests for $2 mill).

I can't figure out if Bluesfest is mad at Folk Fest. They seemed to play nicely last year....


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I had this to offer iirc:
I'm not "mad" at Bluesfest, I just don't like their tactics sometimes.

They could have announced these Market shows at another time, instead of one hour after the Folk Fest lineup.

The rest of the post is just expressing exasperation with the Govt who gave one fuckload of a lot of money to an organization that does not NEED it (you could hold three FULL folk fests for $2 mill).

I can't figure out if Bluesfest is mad at Folk Fest. They seemed to play nicely last year....

Did you just quote a post and then wonder if you were recalling the post correctly, or did you just retype that from memory?

By the way, I think the part that I must be misremembering would be the post before the one you just "recalled correctly".

I'm baffled as to why you quoted me quoting Mark. Are you suggesting Mark didn't tell me that?

Again, my apologies.

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Monahan and folk fest dude (Bob Ledrew?) were just on CBC. Started listening after interview had started, but took some notes.

Goal is to get to Winnipeg Folk Fest stature in the next few years

Not competitive on bookings, different time of summer so more artists can come with more $$ backing the fests.

Britannia Park poorly serviced by transit. Handicaps festival. New venue will have good aspects of Britannia but none of the drawbacks. Ideas are Confed Park, Festival Plaza, Brewer Park, Hogs Back and more. Downtown location would be good, transit, etc, but might not be right vibe.

Agreement isn't completely finalised yet. Day to day stuff will start after that.

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Yeah, Meggo...you're not just being dickish but you're really being a complete and utter dick.


Keep on sparkling.

On screen, Dick Van Dyke has been rescued from untimely death by flying cars and magical nannies. Off screen, the veteran star of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins had to rely on the help of a pod of porpoises after apparently dozing off aboard his surfboard. "I'm not kidding," he said afterwards.

Van Dyke's ordeal began during an ill-fated trip to his local beach. "I woke up out of sight of land," the 84-year-old actor told reporters. "I started paddling with the swells and I started seeing fins swimming around me and I thought 'I'm dead!'"

Van Dyke was wrong. "They turned out to be porpoises," he said. "And they pushed me all the way to shore." The porpoises were unavailable for comment.


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