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Home County future remains up in the air after annual general meeting

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The future of the Home County Music and Art Festival remains up in the air.

Dwindling donations, shrinking government grants and fewer volunteers taking leadership roles means it can no longer continue in its existing form.

“2024 is definitely out, and the future of the festival will look different,” said outgoing Home County Folk League Chairperson Sara Lanthier, who stepped down from the post at the League’s annual general meeting Tuesday night. “We won’t be able to keep it the same way as an admission by donation festival for three days in the park.”

Lanthier said the league is striking a committee to consider the future of its work and the festival. It has given itself 90 days to come up with potential scenarios.

At this point, all ideas are on the table.

“Is there a shorter festival? Is there a ticketed festival? Is there no festival at all, and do we just return to the work of the folk league and promote different events for the folk community?” she said.

The original Home County Folk Festival launched in 1974. It survived on donations and government grants, but both are now down while costs have gone up.

The 2023 edition of the festival lost $30,000, according to Folk League Treasurer Paul Tomlinson.

“It’s significant to us,” he explained. “You know when you’re looking at 70, 80, 90 thousand dollars in grants and you get an eight to 10 per cent cut in that, that’s real bottom line money. And we have very few places that we can cut. Inevitably it’s going to be in performers’ fees, so.”

Tomlinson added that it’s getting more difficult to attract corporate sponsors.

While the future of the festival itself remains up in the air, Lanthier said they’ll find other ways to support the arts.

“For people who think that it’s just over, it’s not,” he said. “It’s on a pause while we look at different ideas for the future.” 

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