Volunteers propel the Calgary Folk Music Festival

November 28, 2023
Leadership Film, TV & Creative Industries Life in Calgary
3 FOLK FEST 1000 x 750

The Calgary Folk Music Festival team includes, front row from left, Felix Lorfing, Kennedy Watt, Stephanie Mok, Katie Neelin, Jarrett Edmund and Olivia O’Brien. Back row, from left, John Hiebert, Jeff Storey, Jordan Schroter, Pete Kaminski, Ingrid Mosker, Sarah Agnew, Sara Leishman and Sarah Olson. Missing: Kerry Clarke.

Photo Credit: Wil Andruschak © Postmedia Network Inc.

Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.

Calgary Folk Music Festival would be nothing without the people.

Indeed, the organization that has run its summer music festival every July on Prince’s Island since 1980 relies on tens of thousands of music fans to support the local, Canadian and international musicians and artists it showcases.

Yet, its true people power comes from its volunteers, making the organization sustainable in more ways than one, says Sara Leishman, executive director of the Calgary Folk Music Festival.

“The volunteers and their guidance help drive everything we do,” she says. “Their investment of time, passion and effort contribute directly to our organization’s sustainability — whether that’s supporting the city’s arts scene, environmental initiatives or financial.”

The volunteers inspire the staff team of 15 to carry on the legacy of an evolving organization that has grown to not only include the Calgary Folk Music Festival’s main event, which takes place in July, but also its popular Block Heater indoor and outdoor, multi-venue music festival.

Block Heater will run for its ninth year in a row from Feb. 15 to 17, 2024.

Volunteers also help operate the Festival Hall venue in Inglewood, which plays host to concerts and community events throughout the year.

In short, their contribution is immense. Consider that, in 2022, 1,563 volunteers contributed 29,298 hours of labour worth about $791,000 for the organization.

“That doesn’t even hold a candle to what they contribute in setting the vibe and community spirit of what we do,” Leishman adds.

Of course, collaboration between volunteers and staff is what makes the Calgary Folk Music Festival resilient and adaptable in an ever-changing arts and culture landscape.

“Sustainability has been critical to our success for 45 years and counting,” she says. “Many thanks to our legions of passionate volunteers and music fans.”

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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