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The Vancouver Folk Music Festival society has 7 new directors. Here’s who they are


If last night’s board elections for the Vancouver Folk Music Festival Society amounted to a showdown between competing visions for the festival’s future, the battle ended in a draw.

Members of the society elected seven new board members during the three-plus-hour meeting, but it wasn’t a clean sweep for either the candidates endorsed by the existing board or those endorsed by FolxVoteNo, the ad hoc coalition that rose up to fight a proposed resolution to dissolve the festival society.

Two of the winning candidates had been endorsed by both sides.

The new directors are:

Fiona Black, a 25-year veteran of the concert promotion business and the founding director of programming for the BlueShore Centre for the Performing Arts at Capilano University (endorsed by both the board and Folx).

Kris Klaasen, a graphic designer and former festival board member who has also headed its communications committee and served on its fundraising committee (endorsed by Folx).

Amy Newman, a school principal, a former festival board chair, intern and Little Folks Area committee coordinator and a taiko drummer (endorsed by Folx).

Anne Blaine, the festival’s administrator for 14 years and a former board member and steering committee member with Folk Alliance International. She has decades of professional experience in event organization and management (endorsed by Folx).

Christina Price, a long-time folk fest volunteer and former festival manager with the Vancouver Fringe Festival who currently works as a major gifts fundraiser at an environmental charity (endorsed by the board).

Nimmi Takkar, a multilingual professional with a track record in stakeholder relations and specialized experience working with cultural communities (endorsed by the board).

Melinda Suto, a veteran festival volunteer on the transportation and administration committees and a department head at UBC, where she gained skills dealing with HR issues, managing budgetary constraints, hiring faculty, evaluating programs, and developing strategic plans (endorsed by the board and Folx).

An eighth candidate, Folx-backed Jeff Finger, tied with Melinda for seventh place but volunteered to step aside to avoid a lengthy discussion about how to break the tie. The board will decide at a later date whether Jeff will automatically become the replacement should any other board member need to step aside.

VFMF directors serve staggered terms, and five directors were not up for re-election this year. The five who remain on the board are:

  • Mark Zuberbuhler
  • Fil Hemming
  • Trina Plamondon
  • Erin Mullan
  • Tess Kitchen

The only sitting board member up for re-election this year, Yee Chan, was defeated.

The previous board of directors of the society triggered an outcry when it announced in January that the festival was canceled, and it would put forward a resolution at the annual general meeting, then scheduled for Feb. 1, to dissolve the society.

Board members said COVID-related business closures and increased demands for payment up front had driven up the costs of presenting the festival, and it was simply no longer feasible.

But long-time organizers and volunteers banded together to encourage members to vote no on the resolution, saying that long-time festival supporters at least deserved a chance to save it.

The board relented, withdrew the motion, and postponed the AGM to March 1 to allow time for dialogue.

Since then, the British Columbia government has announced $30 million in new funding for festivals, which the board said could help in allowing a 2023 event to go ahead.








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