Are Canada’s festivals destined to disappear?

By Analysis by The Big Story podcast

In today’s The Big Story podcast, Juste Pour Rire announced that it would not hold Just For Laughs festivals in Montreal and Toronto in 2024, and that it was entering creditor protection. Toronto has already seen the cancellation of its Taste of The Danforth food festival, as well as scaled down versions of the Fringe and Luminato festivals. Hot Docs is struggling to survive and other major festivals like Shaw are facing record deficits.

Meanwhile, government help for arts institutions during the pandemic era is all but gone, while crowds have still not returned to their pre-pandemic levels. 

Joshua Chong is a culture reporter and arts critic for the Toronto Star. “If there’s like an event that happens that kind of throws [the festival] off — and we’ve seen that over the past few years with COVID-19 outbreaks, sickness — that can really hamper and damage the long-term financial success of these companies,” said Chong.

What’s happening? Could it be the end of many long-running Canadian festivals? And what will we lose if it is?

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