Summertime Blues Festival Canceled

Summer and the Sinners at Summertime Blues! by Gerda Hoffman

The Nanaimo Blues Society has announced that it is canceling plans for its annual multi-day free Summertime Blues Festival in Nanaimo in 2010. This event, which has been staged on Diana Krall Plaza each August for the past five years, has presented over 100 performances and entertained more than 35,000 persons during its tenure. “The Society has decided to take a year off to examine its future options and develop a new business plan for the event. This was a difficult decision but it was the right one for a number of reasons” said Blues Society president Ed Poli. Poli indicated that “The board felt the festival had gone as far as it could as a free event supported entirely by grants, sponsorships, and on-site donations. “

Poli also pointed out that “After five years of successful Festivals and skyrocketing attendance, the event has exceeded the capacity of Diana Krall Plaza and needs to move to a larger venue. At peak periods during the 2009 festival the plaza was so densely packed that it was almost impossible to move.”

The Blues Society board noted that the current economic environment presents a considerable challenge, as does the severe reduction in available arts funding. Sponsorship and grant support were down in 2009 and the festival ran at a loss. Festival reserves were able to cover the loss but it is not a situation the board wants to repeat. All indications are that this year’s fundraising climate will be even bleaker than 2009, and the board opted to take a year off to explore a new financial framework to move the Festival forward.

“This is the right time to do this,” Poli continues, “The Society is financially stable and has the resources to conduct a solid planning process. A number of vacancies are also opening up on the Society Board and this provides the opportunity to attract new blood to help take the Festival to the next level.”

Festival founder and music director Bill Lucas endorsed the decision. “I fully support the Blues Society in this decision” said Lucas “It’s the right thing to do and should result in a bigger, better, and bluesier festival in 2011. I just want to sincerely thank the city, the Nanaimo Downtown Partnership, our sponsors, and the thousands of festival supporters and fans for their solid support over the last five years.” The Nanaimo Blues Society welcomes interest from those wanting to be a part of building the new Summertime Blues! and will be electing new board members at its annual general meeting on Thursday, March 18, 2010. For more information contact Ed Poli at 250-716-3579.