Whistler Music Festival up in the air 

Industry newsletter says Festival Network is cutting back

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A date has been booked for the Whistler Music Festival, but whether it comes back this summer is up in the air.
Carly Howell, manager of event tourism for Tourism Whistler, told Pique in a brief interview Wednesday that Aug. 29 and 30 have been set aside for the festival, but she doesn't yet know whether there's a festival to fill the dates.
"At this point, we're not entirely sure," she said. "We've contacted the Festival Network a couple of times and we're just waiting for a final answer from them, so we're waiting at this point.
"We hope they come back, obviously we're looking forward to this year and building on last year."
Last year's event was organized by Festival Network LLC, a New York-based concert and event management company. It was a two-day festival that took place July 19 and 20 at Blackcomb Base II and brought artists such as Elvis Costello, Thievery Corporation and Medeski, Martin and Wood to the stage.
Organizers initially hoped to bring 5,000 spectators for each day of the festival, but Howell said that final estimates were between 3,000 and 4,000 on both days - well below expected numbers, but the organizers will still happy.
The lower attendance numbers could have had to do with a couple of things, including a limited time to promote the festival. Organizers only started promoting the festival heavily with two or three months to go, despite the fact that they had been working on the festival since the spring of 2008.
Another factor limiting attendance was its proximity to the Pemberton Festival, which was booked for the following weekend. Many within the community had already bought tickets for the major festival that was promoted months earlier.
The Pemberton Festival won't be an obstacle for anyone this year - it's been cancelled for 2009 but it's likely to return for 2010.
Among other events, Festival Network also organizes the Jackson Hole Music Festival, the San Francisco Music Festival and the JVC Jazz Festival in New York. A report in Ticket News , however, said the company is in "financial straits" and lost between $5 million and $6 million in 2008.
Those losses, according to the report, have forced the company to lay off staffers, close offices and possibly shut down some of its festivals. The company closed its San Francisco office, merging it with head office in New York. A spokesperson for Festival Network told Ticket News that the company was "cutting back" on operating costs to "best prepare" for the 2009 season.
Howell has seen the report in Ticket News , but she's still hopeful the festival can return.
"I know they're publicly looking at their music festival lineup for 2009, but we hope that they do come back," she said.
Messages left for Festival Network were not returned, nor was an e-mail to its press representative.

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