“Struggling with Inflation: Quebec Festivals Grapple with Rising Costs Amid Record Ticket Sales”

2023-05-28 22:00:00

Even if their tickets are selling like hot dogs, the organizers of Quebec festivals are still struggling with galloping inflation which would be responsible for increases in operating costs of up to 50%.

“I have never been so concerned about my funding and my budget as this year,” says the director of the Festif! of Baie-Saint-Paul, Clément Turgeon.

“If all goes well, we continue to sell tickets, the beer sale is going well and the weather is good, we should be okay, but we are less comfortable than in other years,” he added. he.

He regrets, like other colleagues, that Heritage Canada has decided to bring its subsidies back to the level before COVID-19. “It’s a drop of $35,000 to $40,000,” he said.

Soaring prices are not new. Already in 2022, during the post-pandemic recovery, festivals had to deal with significant cost increases. The phenomenon is far from calming down in 2023, they all noted.

“To do the same festival as before the pandemic, you have to put in 25 to 50% more money. The increase in artists’ fees is greater this year than last year, ”explains the general manager of the FestiVoix de Trois-Rivières, Thomas Grégoire.

hard choices

All of them are trying to avoid passing the bill on to festival-goers by limiting the increase in ticket prices, in order to remain accessible.

“People already have to pay for travel, accommodation, food. More than 80% of our customers come from outside, from a minimum of two hours away. We do not want to add additional pressure on finances,” says Julien Pinardon, who directs the Festival de la chanson de Tadoussac.

Certain events are therefore called upon to make choices.

“I cut some small ideas to prioritize others that are more interesting for the festival experience,” says the general manager of La Noce, in Saguenay, Frédéric Poulin.

“Either we will have to increase ticket prices, or we do fewer free shows, except that when we get there, it breaks the experience and the spontaneity. Otherwise, it may be to reduce the level of artists on the free stages. It’s quite annoying, ”says Clément Turgeon.

The volunteers return

At least the labor shortage isn’t hitting as hard as it did in 2022, when event organizers were tearing their hair out trying to find workers and volunteers.

“In recent years, we had to solicit on Facebook. This year, without any solicitation, we already have 130 registered volunteers and it takes 150,” rejoices Frédéric Poulin.

Same positive observation in Trois-Rivières, according to Thomas Grégoire.

“Last year, finding volunteers required a major recruitment effort. Conversely, this year, we are at full capacity.”

Almost all Quebecers will participate in a festival

Despite inflation, event organizers can sleep on their ears: festival-goers will be there.

According to a survey by Événements Attractions Québec, the results of which were released last week, more than nine out of ten Quebecers plan to participate in at least one festival, event or attraction during the coming summer.

This surge of enthusiasm is felt in the various festival ticket offices.

In Quebec City, home to the Foo Fighters, Imagine Dragons and Green Day, all Summer Festival general admission passes were sold out in a record two hours. “It shows people’s attachment to the festival,” notes its new general manager, Nicolas Racine.

In Trois-Rivières, the FestiVoix is ​​also sold out. “In two or three weeks, we sold all our passports,” ignites Thomas Grégoire, who notably awaits Sean Paul and Patrick Bruel on his stages.

On the Tadoussac side, on the contrary, we note that sales are slower than those of 2022, but director Julien Pinardon is not worried. “It’s not alarming. We still have 40% sales to go, but it’s no different than before the pandemic. Now that we have regained the freedom to do what we do, maybe people decide at the last minute.

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