By Annie Ellison
Published: Oct. 19, 2013
Squamish Valley Music Festival brought thousands of music lovers to town, raised our profile, and boosted local business.
But it wasn’t the win-win most believe it to be, at least not for the organizers who claim they lost money on the event.
“I mean it’s an expensive undertaking and it takes a while to get up and running.” Paul Runnals
brand.LIVE, the company behind the Squamish Valley Music Festival, didn’t make any profit from the two-and-a-half day concert, said Paul Runnals, senior vice president of production.
In fact, they lost money.
“I mean it’s an expensive undertaking and it takes a while to get up and running,” said Runnals.
“When you start up a new event, you’re enticing people to the area who aren’t used to going,” he said.
Waste and traffic management, security and medical resources employed, and payment for the artists all add up, he said.
It’s not like the festival undersold on tickets.
The site capacity was 19,000 people a day. On the first day, attendance was just under 18,000 and on the second day it was just over 17,000 people.
“Until you’re sold out you can always do better,” said Runnals.
According to a report compiled by the Conference Board of Canada entitled “Festival and Events Assessment Model,” the local economy benefited to the tune of $9.9 million dollars from the festival.
The report was paid for by brand.LIVE, Runnals said.
“The festival commissioned and paid for the report as a tool to qualify financial and tourism benefits to the region,” he said.
The report also claims the festival generated $18.7 million across B.C. by way of travel and accommodation. However, there’s no breakdown of where these numbers come from.
The Conference Board of Canada has “of Canada” in its name, but it’s not an official or government supported think tank.
They are a policy analysis think tank that analyzes market trends and creates reports and seminars from them.
Councillor Ron Sander wants to see a breakdown of the numbers, too, along with a strategy for the festival that incorporates out-of-town ‘weekend warriors’ as well as locals.
“We need some principles if we want to double the attendance,” he said in a Committee of the Whole district council meeting.
“Two-and-a-half hours to get home from Brittania Beach isn’t reasonable,” he said.
brand.LIVE originally struck a ten-year deal with the District of Squamish, and Runnals sees short-term losses as an investment for the future.
“We’re in it for the long haul,” said Runnals.
Runnals says working out a deal with local organizations and expanding on free labour is another avenue BrandLIVE may explore.
Event production goliath Live Nation will team up with brand.LIVE to host next year’s festival, which will have double the capacity.
Runnals says in 2014, guests can expect to see some of the biggest musical acts in the world.
The lineup has not yet been released.