Folk Music Fest hoping for council help

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The Canmore Folk Music Festival is hoping elected officials in the community will see the value in contributing funds towards its 40th anniversary celebration.

Festival director Sue Panning was in front of Canmore council at its first meeting in November to make a funding request for $20,000.

Panning said the fact the Canmore festival is celebrating its 40th year at the same time as the 150th birthday of Canada means there are opportunities to combine both celebrations.

She said the folk music society is part of a nationally curated concert project, along with folk festivals in Vancouver, Regina and Calgary to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, that has applied for federal funding as well.

“The idea is to bring a curated concert that is free to each of these festivals one week before the event,” Panning said.

She said the free concert would be in addition to a major Canadian act the folk festival hopes to book for its annual event held the August long weekend next year.

“It is a big thing,” Panning said. “I am envisioning it being an important national thing and we are a part of it, which is exciting.”

Both the Canada 150 event and booking a major act for the festival means extra funding is needed to make it a reality. Panning said both endeavours require $40,000 and she is requesting a contribution from the municipality of $20,000.

Panning said the Canmore Folk Music Festival has a long history of giving back to the community and has not been in front of council before requesting funding support. The organization built the Stan Rogers Stage in Centennial Park, built the washrooms and upgraded infrastructure in the park, including electricity and water lines.

The folk fest host an annual children’s concert in partnership with the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity’s Children’s Festival each May, it provides four yearly music scholarships to students from Canmore Collegiate High School and is a leader in towards zero waste at its event.

“We have been bringing people here, rain or shine, for 40 years,” Panning said. “We are part of the character of Canmore. When people think about Canmore, the folk festival is one of the top five things they talk about.

“We are continually creating community through a shared love of music and 80 per cent of our volunteers are local.”

Council began considering its 2017 annual operating and capital budgets this week, including requests for funding from outside organizations.

Mayor John Borrowman said council will consider the request from the festival during that process.

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