Held back for two years by health regulations, Quebec’s music and comedy festivals must overcome new obstacles at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is finally giving them a break: labor shortages and rising numbers. costs caused by inflation.
Even if the holding of any event is not questioned and no one cries catastrophically, throughout Quebec, various organizations must make unprecedented efforts to gather the necessary staff for the smooth running of their festivals and balanced budgets (see other text below).
“It was difficult to recruit from all sectors,” says Laurent Saulnier, vice president of programming and production for Équipe Spectra, which organizes the Francos and the Montréal International Jazz Festival.
“We get far fewer resumes than usual,” adds Just for Laughs boss Patrick Rozon.
“We had to visit CEGEP and universities. It is a challenge that requires a lot of time and money”, explains the CEO of FestiVoix de Trois-Rivières, Thomas Grégoire.
Will they show up?
At Québec’s Festival d’été, development of the Plains of Abraham site, where Maroon 5, Alanis Morissette, and Rage Against The Machine will parade in July, begins tomorrow morning after a race against the clock involving, in, In particular, buy ads on Facebook to find all the required skilled workers.
“Over the next three weeks, we have the teams to accomplish what is scheduled. We’re right, but are all the people going to show up on Monday? I don’t know”, the general manager, Anne Hudon, wondered a few days ago.
Generally, the ComediHa! Fest-Québec needs 150 to 200 volunteers to ensure it runs smoothly. Currently, “I’m 50”, reveals its general manager, Josée Charland.
“I hope that people answer the call, otherwise we will have to be creative and find solutions. If necessary, I will sell tickets,” she jokes.
Technicians and security guards wanted
At La Noce in Saguenay, the organization was unable to find all of its sound and stage technicians in the region. “I have to go to my bank of contacts and friends who are in Quebec and Montreal,” says director Frédéric Poulin, who also struggles to find rental cars and security guards.
“I asked the Garda and they said they couldn’t bid because they didn’t have enough manpower. I am looking for a full team. I don’t have enough people in Saguenay to do it alone and I don’t have a head of security who can handle his team. In the worst-case scenario, if I don’t have all the officers I need, we’ll ask for volunteers to guard doors located in less judicious places,” says Mr. Poulin.
Meetings in June…
From June 10 to 18 in Montreal
From June 16 to 19, in Tadoussac
D-FESTIVALr MOBILE AQUAFEST
From June 20 to 26, 2022
From June 29 to July 2, in Chicoutimi
From June 30 to July 9, in Petite-Vallée
INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL
From June 30 to July 9 in Montreal
FESTIVAL OF VOICE
From June 30 to July 10 in Trois-Rivières
What they say…
“ As this situation affects everyone, we are trying to exchange employees between producers. That is, instead of having a two-week contract for a single event, we contract them together for two months. »
– Patrick Rozon, Vice President of Francophone Content and General and Artistic Director of Just for Laughs
“ Given the pandemic, we have played it safe this year and our needs are less, so we will do it right. »
– Josée Charland, General Manager of ComediHa!
“ We’re going to tell the artists that we’re going to try to keep the same setup on stage as much as possible, between shows, because we’re short on manpower. »
– Sébastien Huot, CEO of Festivent, in Lévis
“ The big unknown is that we don’t know how many people are ready to attend the big events. »
– Laurent Saulnier, Vice President of Programming and Production at Équipe Spectra
All the victims of inflation
Inflation is hitting Quebec festivals hard as they have to absorb price increases of up to 50%.
“Everything is more expensive”, launches the boss of the Festival! de Baie-Saint-Paul, Clement Turgeon.
“For the same offer that was $15,000 before, today it can go up to $23,000, particularly because of the price of gasoline. For example, chemical toilets, you have to pick them up in Gatineau”, he adds.
The increase in costs affects the remuneration of staff and artists, the rental of stage equipment, lighting, and sound, vehicles, fences, toilets, and bar and restaurant material.
“It goes from 15% to 30-40, or even 50% more expensive”, according to Thomas Grégoire, from FestiVoix de Trois-Rivières.
“With us, everything we rent comes from Quebec, Chicoutimi, or Montreal. Shipping costs have skyrocketed”, says the general director of the Festival de la chanson de Tadoussac, Julien Pardon.
From $4.2M to $4.8M
According to Laurent Saulnier of Équipe Spectra, “It is the accumulation that changes the game. It becomes a real budget problem. »
At the FestiVoix de Trois-Rivières, the 2020 edition, canceled due to the pandemic, was going to be the largest in the history of the event with a budget of 4.2 million dollars. “In 2022, to achieve substantially the same, we have reached 4.8 million for the time being,” says Thomas Grégoire.
For her part, Festival d’été director Anne Hudon says there is a limit to the salary increase her event wants to give its temporary workforce to “maintain fairness with regular employees.” »
Crucial help from governments
Regardless, no one is crying out for food yet, mostly thanks to Quebec and Ottawa’s COVID-related grants that are still in place.
“Both the levels of government and the municipal level responded. They had to be there for the revival”, rejoices Patrick Kearney, who directs the Santa Teresa festival, which took place from May 19 to 22.
How long governments will around remains to be seen, believes Clément Turgeon. “In the future, if the government withdraws COVID-related subsidies, it will be a problem. To hire you will have to be more generous and you will need more sources of income. »
Reasonable increase in ticket prices
Despite runaway inflation, festival-goers will not be affected by a drastic increase in ticket prices in 2022.
The financial support of the different levels of government, during the pandemic, made it possible to avoid a price shock at the ticket office.
In general, the increases are still reasonable.
In Trois-Rivières, FestiVoix has raised the price of its passports from $49 in 2020 to $59 in 2022.
“We have increased less than the inflation we are experiencing,” says director Thomas Grégoire.
The Festival de Lévis has also increased its passports by $10, which are now $49.99 in presale instead of $39.99.
Things don’t move in Tadoussac
At the Festival de la chanson de Tadoussac, the prices have not changed. “We didn’t want to increase prices because we know that a good transport and accommodation budget is required to get to Tadoussac. We hope that the various subsidy programs take into account the increase in the cost of living”, explains director Julien Pardon.
On the festive side! from Baie-Saint-Paul, the cost of tickets for a single event remained the same. Passports for the duration of the event increase from $10 to $15 due to the addition of a fourth night.
At the Festival d’été de Québec, the 125,000 tickets flew in presale at $130, an increase of $20 compared to what was expected in 2020 and had been decreed, explained director Anne Hudon, to face inflation.
As for La Noce, in Saguenay, the increase is a little more significant. Passports have gone from $50 to $80.