Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival may scale-back, cancel events

The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival says it may be scaling back or canceling some of its events this year if it can’t get more sponsors.

In a statement from the group, it explains it lost the financial support of lead sponsor Coromandel Properties, which the festival says recently filed for creditor protection.

Executive Director Michael Dove says the real estate developer made up about a quarter of the festival’s overall budget for events, equaling about $80,000 in support.

Dove says the majority of events are free so they don’t have enough ticket revenue to help keep them afloat. He says the loss of sponsorship is prompting conversations on how to move forward with the festival.

cherry blossoms

Vancouver streets awash with blooming buds and blossoms. (Kareem Gouda, CityNews)

“All of this is just happening, obviously, a lot of things swirling around…Where we stand right now, there’s certainly a risk of a lot of our major events not happening or having to be really scaled back,” he said.

He adds that it’s not just the big events in jeopardy of moving forward.

“It puts some of our major events at risk and then that has a trickle-down effect,” he said. “The vast majority of our money goes towards other artists, making sure that we’re bringing in musicians and visual artists, poets, and so being a conduit for that type of creativity and that type of income,” he said.

“If we can’t have some of these events, if we’re not able to afford them, that will certainly have an impact on the creative industry that’s already been hit pretty hard in the last couple of years,” he said.

But Dove says the group is looking at ways to fill the financial gap so the festival can live up to previous years.

The annual festival is a much-anticipated time for locals and usually runs for the majority of April.

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“The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is a celebration of both the cherry blossoms that we have within the city and recognizing their historical significance, but also using the metaphor of the blossoms, which are only around for a couple of weeks, for us to take a moment to take a pause to appreciate what’s best in our life, the things that we’re grateful for, and as a way to promote sort of our relationship with nature,” Dove said.

The group says the goal is to “educate and engaged diverse communities through accessible local arts and culture to celebrate the fragile beauty of the cherry blossom.”

“Events throughout the city bring people together to celebrate nature, creativity, and Vancouver’s cherry tree heritage,” the release reads.

Dove says the first event, The Big Picnic, is planned to kicks-off the festival on April 1.

Spring has been a confusing one in Vancouver with cherry blossoms and umbrellas.

Spring has been a confusing one in Vancouver with cherry blossoms and umbrellas. May 2022. (Claire Fenton/CityNews)

“Our biggest priority is making sure that event happens,” he said. Dove says the size of the event could change, but they are making “contingency plans,” to ensure it still moves forward.

“When the cherry blossoms come out like that’s such a huge, significant moment for all of us to be like, ‘Oh, finally, we’re coming out of this rainy season,'” he said.

Dove says the loss of the sponsorship is still new, and they are working toward getting the funding in place.

“At this point, we’re looking at a lot of different scenarios and certainly don’t want to say one way or the other. But the loss of 25 per cent of our budget which will have a huge impact and something will have to change and a lot of things will have to get caught if that if that continues,” he said.

With files from Maria Vinca 

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