In an open letter, Jacques-Andre Dumont, president of the group that organizes the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Francofolies, and Montreal en Lumière, estimated that it the coming years, Montreal's most popular festivals will no longer offer free events around the Quartier des Spectacles.
After on-site vendors demanded a $5 million dollar injection to help them recoup financial losses, organizers are scrambling to figure out how to accommodate everyone without potentially losing millions more.
TL;DR Montreal's favourite festivals might not offer free shows anymore after organizers struggle to recover lost millions. Even after $20 million in public funds have been used to keep the festivals afloat, organizers project tough times ahead.
Dupont has proposed a special tax to help finance the free content offered by the festivals. As if the Montreal public isn't taxed enough, a report reveals that for the past six years, over $20 million dollars in taxpayer money has been used to support the festivals around the Quartier des Spectacles.
Even worse, festival organizers have never footed the bill to close the roads around Place des Arts. Instead, that responsibility fell to the city.
Mayor Valerie Plante underlines that the city of Montreal gives enormous contributions to the many festivals that the Quartier hosts. She says that even though they draw enormous crowds and bring an influx of millions to local businesses, festival organizers must get creative if they want to keep offering free shows to the public. Plante goes on to say that public funding is not a sustainable solution to this problem.
Last year's Jazz Fest drew an estimated over two million people to the Quartier des Festivals, with some free shows drawing 100,000 spectators. With over $1.5 billion invested in festival infrastructure over the past decade, festival organizers and the city administrators say that it could take two years to strike a fair deal with Montreal.
For the moment, free shows will continue. Stay tuned for updates.