Festival and Events Focus Group Notes

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Festival and Events Focus Group Notes

Holiday Inn Express

June 1


  • Kim Doyle, Cavendish Beach Music Festivals
  • Dawn Alan, Downtown Charlottetown
  • Peter McCrady, Festival and Events PEI | PEI Shellfish Festival
  • Heidi Zinn, Discover Charlottetown
  • Donna Hurry, City of Charlottetown
  • Doreen Sark
  • Michael MacKinnon, Red Shores
  • Jennifer Campbell, Festival of Small Halls
  • Carol Horne, Confederation Centre of the Arts

General Discussion on the Issues Impacting Festivals and Events

  • It is difficult to get volunteers in rural PEI. F&E are highly dependent on the senior community for volunteers. Trying to find ways to engage youth. Typically it’s the same people doing to the same work. Without volunteers, F&E would not be possible.
  • It’s difficult to attract sponsors because we don’t have a large pool of corporate brands on PEI and Atlantic Canada. F&E on PEI are all requesting support from the same companies.
  • The timing of funding is too late. Events are getting notification in May which makes it really difficult to plan, hire staff and create quality events that are demand generators for the area.
  • Liability insurance and overall risk is high for local groups.
  • Many groups are risk averse. It is difficult to get community groups to take on risk. If an event loses money then the groups must cover it. Events are subject to high risk due to weather. With the risk and lateness in funding it’s becoming increasingly difficult.
  • Festivals and Events PEI has too small of budget ($7K annually) to operate. They are simply marketing to locals. This group should be strengthened to market events off-island and to provide more value to membership like group buying.
  • There is a philosophy to make events self-sustaining but this is very unrealistic. Most events are designed to be demand generators.
  • Many events are being planned within 2-3 months and as a result are not reaching their full potential.
  • The most successful events on PEI are wrapped around authentic PEI Experiences.
  • PEI is known for its long term commitment to hosting events. Other areas tend to offer an event for a year and then move on. PEI has several long term F&E which create repeat visitation.
  • Wrapping the event around the PEI experience is important to the long term success of an event.
  • With funding in decline, there needs to be a creative approach to reducing costs. The Atlantic Presenters Association is an example of this in that they provide bulk buying services to its membership.
  • There needs to be more support for events in the east and west. Look at options to purchase a tent and possibly share infrastructure amongst several events. Need to constantly sell F&E to funding partners. Sometimes the ROI is intangible.
  • The Event Grounds is not working for small or large groups. The financials don’t work. It does not provide good value and is too expensive which is why it is highly under-utilized. Also the venue is not turn key. There needs to be investment so events aren’t constantly investing in infrastructure to build the site. Charlottetown had great festivals on the waterfront but they were disruptive to the resident community. The new event venue was the answer to this issue. The event venue could work. It’s the rental structure that doesn’t work. They want a piece of everything. The structure needs to be revisited.
  • The City of Charlottetown does contribute to the events in the form of policing and services and is very supportive of events.
  • There are some rules and regulations in place, but it’s not consistent across the Island as often the community establishes the guidelines for F&E.


  • The PEI Brand appears to be changing frequently.
  • The PEI brand is the people, the coastline, our islandness and the culture.
  • There is a lot of confusion around the PEI brand. Is it Gentle Island, Flavours, Canada’s Food Island, etc?
  • F&E contribute significantly to the sense of place and the culture. F&E garner a lot of media exposure for Prince Edward Island. Since programming changes from year to year F&E are often the answer to the question… What’s new on Prince Edward Island?
  • There is a need to expand on what an authentic Island experience actually is.
  • Large festivals are marketing off-island the smaller ones can’t afford to. There needs to be more partnerships with the RTA’s and Tourism PEI.
  • The Co-op marketing program has been reduced dramatically which has resulted in less marketing dollars for events. Most events relied very heavily on the co-op campaign to purchase off-island marketing. This has resulted in a 30% cost increase in off-island marketing. This means off-island marketing efforts have been reduced.
  • Need to be more strategic at aligning events and RTA’s with the provincial marketing strategy. Industry needs to know what the province is doing early on in the planning process. The events want the ability to “pay to play” and share results. With marketing dollars declining, industry and government must be more strategic with marketing dollars.