GAC suspends Cultivate Festival for 2020. Sets sights on 2021

Gabriola Arts Council

Press Release

Wednesday, November 6 2019

The members of the GAC board have been engaged in numerous discussions about the Cultivate Festival from the moment the event wrapped up on Labour Day weekend. After a series of meetings and detailed consideration, a decision was reached about the short- and long-term future of this great event.

The Gabriola Arts Council board recognizes the artistic and community success of Cultivate 2019, however they have made the hard decision to suspend the festival for 2020. This will allow the organization to better understand the impact of the event on GAC staff, volunteers, the community, and the many organizations with which it partners, and to determine the best way to build on Cultivate’s success that is manageable and sustainable. According to Michelle Benjamin, GAC’s executive director, the difficult decision came only after looking hard at every aspect, including the financial picture; feedback from the audience and artists; staff, volunteer, and organizational capacity; and more.

“Our goal in this deep review process was to answer two important questions: first—should there be another Cultivate Festival? If the answer is yes, then when and how should it happen?” she said. “Given all the ways Cultivate 2019 was a success, we couldn’t imagine not creating another one. The message onsite throughout the weekend and in the feedback gathered later was clear: people loved and appreciated this event.”

But the review process also pointed to issues around resources, staffing, and volunteer needs that the Board believe could likely increase as the festival becomes even more successful.

“Organizationally and financially, we need more time to recover and rebuild from Cultivate 2019, and to build up the necessary resources for the next edition,” said Benjamin.

The GAC board has determined a path forward that sets its sights on July 2021, giving the organization 20 months to talk to partners and people in the community to figure out the best way to move ahead with Cultivate, and to build on what has been an auspicious two-year launch.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to take time to reflect and reorganize, to build resilience for the organization and for everyone involved in making this festival happen, and to work with other organizations—the Commons, of course, and others too—to share responsibility for the long-term success and viability of this important festival,” concluded Benjamin. She promised ample opportunity for community members and organizations to get involved in building an even better Cultivate in 2021.