Alternate and evolving music festivals for the coming year


On behalf of your executive, I would like to take this opportunity to wish each of you health and happiness for the coming year.

I am sure none of us need to read another organizational newsletter update talking about the “challenging times for the arts” and “what an unprecedented year it has been for everyone”. We are certainly aware of the challenges of this past year, and everyone knows the year ahead will be as unpredictable as this past one has been. However, as teachers, performers and artists, it is our role to look forward, and find ways for our communities to celebrate that which is creative. So looking forward, I would like everyone to consider trying to find paths which are not polarizing between ‘we can do nothing’ and ‘let’s do what we did before’ when it comes to planning and being involved in festivals this coming year.

One of the saddest parts of the pandemic is the inability for people to come together- for younger people because of their schools closing, and for older people because of concerns about CO-VID 19. We are all concerned about those festivals which were struggling before the pandemic, and for many different reasons might not survive this coming year. I understand the concern about all of these things, but I would like us to consider that perhaps there is a spot between no festival, and a possible festival which takes advantage of new technologies, uses some of the traditional festival format, and allows us to celebrate our youth, as well as our wonderful volunteers.

Again, as everyone knows, there have been some really good things that the pandemic has changed in our society- even in terms of music lessons themselves. How many of our students would prefer some focus on Facetime/ Zoom lessons going forward after the pandemic? It has moved from a place where few of us would ever consider teaching this past year, to having a majority of lessons being taught on some form of online teaching. Our goal for the coming year is to find the good things we have learned, and try to apply them to pre-pandemic models. Artists have always been good at looking for these ‘grey areas’, and I would like our membership to work together with the festival movement to see if there are ways that some form of festival evolves for this coming year.

Your Executive has come up with a couple of pages of info – which will be on our website and can be linked to- as well as enclosed in this email. We are asking each of you to share this information with any festival group that you have worked with, colleagues that you know, and start a local discussion about what ‘might’ be possible in your community/ province. Hopefully this information will either open doors, or continue a conversation to allow festivals to move forward for this coming year.

Critically, so much of society has managed to work together across so many divides this past year, weirdly it has brought us together is ways that were extremely moving and powerful. We are hopeful that in order to get our festivals back as part of the upcoming new normal, that adjudicators can assist committees and students alike to find a path for each area of this country, to assist in bringing us “alternate festivals” for the coming year.

Dr. Greg Caisley,
Canadian Music Festival Adjudicators Association