Galloping inflation, rising gas prices, labor shortages, one-time government funding… Faced with the many challenges facing them, the members of the Regroupement des events majors internationales du Québec (RÉMI) say they are ready to face the situation, even if it means making difficult choices.

“We’re going to have to roll up our sleeves,” said RÉMI President and CEO Martin Roy on the sidelines of the Annual General Meeting. We will have to do everything we can to deliver the best possible festivals, work on all fronts and explore new avenues to implement new approaches. »

The festival season, which begins the weekend of the Fête des Patriotes, next May 21, with the Piknic Électronik, promises to be more complex than the members of RÉMI would have liked.

The leaders of the 28 festivals associated with the Regroupement, including the Francos, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Montreal Complètement Cirque, the Quebec City Summer Festival, Just for Laughs, Osheaga, etc. had already estimated that last summer’s edition had cost 25% more than that of 2019.

This summer, the projections are hardly more encouraging. The “very strong” inflationary pressure, combined with the shortage of labour, risks forcing festival management to make painful choices, believes Martin Roy.

“We do not want there to be any impact on festival programming, but it is possible that there will be a reduction in opening hours and the number of stages, and therefore of guest artists. Unfortunately, it is the events presented for free that are threatened, because they depend on sponsorships and the sale of derivative products…

“At the same time, continues Martin Roy, to occupy the public domain in Montreal, the counterpart is that the shows must be free. »

Added to this is the stress of government subsidies which are – most of the time – not recurring and do not increase as fast as inflation. There was indeed Ottawa’s announcement (in the last budget) of an investment of $108 million (over three years) to help festivals – across Canada – but the other two Canadian Heritage programs remain. fragile…

“The Canada Arts Presentation Fund and Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage are two programs that have been underfunded for a very long time,” said Martin Roy. The foundations of these programs were put in place by the Harper government in 2008 and have not changed much since. In 2019, there was a small adjustment, but it is punctual, and it must be renewed from year to year…”

The Community Development program was renewed until 2025-2026 in the last budget ($14 million over two years), but not the Canada Fund. “We fear that next year there will be a significant reduction in this program, which is one of Canadian Heritage’s main programs,” Martin Roy told us.

In short, to get its head above water and face these challenges, the RÉMI advocates a partnership between its members. Martin Roy speaks of a “pooling of human resources” and a “sharing of equipment”, especially around the Place des Festivals. “We’re already doing it on a small scale, but I think we can do more. »

He also mentions the possibility for members of the RÉMI to “price certain services or activities”. “We could set up bleachers or dedicated spaces where seating would be paid for in certain places,” he suggests. We must explore all possible avenues. »

Martin Roy continues to believe that the contribution of RÉMI members to the economy is not to be despised. Before the pandemic, he notes that the turnover of the 28 members of the Regroupement was 275 million, and that the economic benefits of only 17 of these events had been evaluated at more than 290 million in added value of GDP.