Fredericton artists take creative approach to festival programming.
Matt Carter | @m_j_c73
In a year when many of the country’s annual music festivals are struggling to maintain established levels of programming against a weak Canadian dollar, smaller events like Fredericton’s Flourish Festival are finding success by challenging the conventional festival model and reinventing the experience for both artists and music lovers alike.
Last week, festival organizers announced the event’s return for a second year, unveiling an impressive 2016 lineup that includes more than fifty musical acts and visual artists joining together with actors, filmmakers and spoken word performers for a four-day, multidisciplinary celebration highlighting many of the city’s emerging artists.
“In a nutshell, it’s a four day interdisciplinary music festival,” said festival founder Jane Blanchard. “We have visual artists, spoken word and music. We use alternative venue spaces and focus on having all-ages shows. We’re just doing something a little bit different so that we can make music accessible.”
Flourish is made even more impressive by the fact that artists from as far away as Toronto, Montreal and Halifax will make the trek to the capital city with little more than a promise of a good time.
“We don’t do guarantees and we don’t have thousands of dollars to throw at them,” said Blanchard. “We give them a huge description of what we’re all about and if they’re interesting in coming down and having a good time, meeting new people and collaborating – welcome to Fredericton.”
Alongside other popular New Brunswick festivals like Folly Fest and SappyFest, Flourish has established its roots free from the large corporate sponsorships and branding. By adopting a whatever-means-available attitude above a whatever-means-necessary approach, Flourish and other similar festivals are reshaping the conventional festival model.
“I’m really proud that we are totally artist run and self sufficient,” said Blanchard. “I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a not-for-profit but also, I kind of like the idea of being self sustainable and not relying on government funding. I think there’s something cool about that.”
By keeping a big part of the focus on ‘supporting local’, Blanchard feels Flourish can also play a larger role in career development for many local artists by providing opportunities to connect, interact and collaborate with musicians and artists from other cities.
“Building these relationships helps make being an artist and a musician in New Brunswick a lot easier,” she said, “and hopefully make it a lot easier to get out of New Brunswick to tour but still have a sustainable life here while being successful on a national scale.”
Learn more about Flourish and all the artists involved in the 2016 event by visiting flourishfest.weebly.com