The Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival is being forced to re-imagine its future. Photo: Louis Bockner

Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival cancelled for 2021

Ticket holders from the 2020 festival will be offered refunds as festival re-imagines its future

For the second consecutive year there will be no Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival.

The annual event in Kaslo was pre-emptively cancelled Thursday due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

Tickets and artist bookings were rolled over to 2021 from last year, on the hopeful assumption that by now the pandemic would be resolved.

“We don’t feel that anymore,” executive director Paul Hinrichs said Friday. “The landscape has changed. We’re going to have to adapt and move forward and re-imagine and re-envision all festivals, not just our festival. Anywhere there’s a compact crowd is probably going to be pretty different for many years.”

Hinrichs says the future will also be a question of what the Village of Kaslo wants.

“We have so many stakeholders. It’s not a private property removed from everybody. We’re right in the middle of a village. So we have a lot of conversations to have.”

A minority of ticket holders for the 2020 festival accepted an offered refund. But now the festival is going to offer a refund to the rest of them, or give them the option to donate to the festival.

Hinrichs is deeply concerned with the mental, artistic and financial health of his performing arts community.

“There is a large loss of self identity, there’s a large loss of self worth … The underlying theme is: Who am I? What do I do now? Where do I take this? And how do I adapt?”

He says not only artists but technical people, contractors, organizations, and venues all hoped they would be working this summer, but now a new reality is sinking in.

Live performance is one the last industries that will come back from the pandemic, he says, and in the meantime many of its workers will have found something else to do.

The Kaslo festival normally employs about 75 people in the summer and seven people throughout the year. Hinrichs and a bookkeeper are the only ones left.

“It’s taken away such a passion project for a lot of people, and those conversations are really the more challenging ones, because they are all heart. Everybody just showed up and put so much heart into that event. It’s hard to talk about.”

Hinrichs says the festival needs the support of the public and the government, whether it’s financial or otherwise, despite the cancellation, to prepare for the unpredictable future of live music.

“My biggest point right now is to make sure there is that awareness. We need the support so that we can come back.”

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