When the idea for an international music festival welcoming thousands to the tiny, remote community of Canso surfaced back in 1996, it seemed like a bold and courageous idea, but was it possible? That surely was on the minds of many.
Now as the site is in construction for the 22nd edition of the signature Nova Scotian festival, the proof is abundantly clear. Then, as now, the vision was to create Canada’s premier songwriter festival, paying tribute to great Canadian songwriter Stan Rogers by gathering and showcasing the world’s finest songwriters.
Annually Stanfest, as it has affectionately become known, welcomes over 10,000 music fans to Canso for the four-day event. An economic impact assessment completed by Events NS in 2015 determined the event has an annual economic impact of $3.6 million to Nova Scotia, with an impact of $1.6 million to the host region.
“We’re extremely proud of what has been accomplished over these 22 years, says artistic director and producer Troy Greencorn. “The economic impact is staggering. Culturally, the region has been changed. An area that saw few if any professional performances has welcomed over 800 artists from around the globe to perform in Canso. Pulling off an event of this magnitude is only possible with the cumulative effort and support of the 600 volunteers and an amazing team of staff, suppliers, partners and sponsors.”
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) has been a part of the Stanfest story since those early days, helping with the start-up, as well as facility upgrades and site improvements as the young event grew.
The Government of Canada has been pleased to provide marketing assistance, guidance and support along the way, including a new investment of $207,125 over a three-year period.
The non-repayable contribution, provided through ACOA’s Innovative Communities Fund, will help the Chedabucto Bay Folk Society to develop and implement a new business plan and significantly expand marketing activities to grow the Stanfest audience.
“The Stan Rogers Folk Festival has become synonymous with resilience, much like Canso, its host community. The festival’s patented mix of local, Canadian and international artists, is a significant tourist draw that generates income, sustaining business throughout Northern Nova Scotia. The Government of Canada is pleased to assist with marketing and capital improvements so this beloved event can attract even more music-lovers,” says Rodger Cuzner, Member of Parliament for Cape Breton – Canso.
“Coming out of two major weather challenged years in the past four years, including the complete cancellation in 2014 for hurricane Arthur, marketing and audience growth is more important than ever. We have formed amazing partnerships that will see us continue to grow, both as a regional and national success story.”
Greencorn said the the festival has forged new partnerships with the Saltwire Network connecting, Tradable Bits and “A for Adventure”. “We still market in the tried-and-true mediums, with posters, brochures and ads, but social media is changing the game. Ours is an experiential product. Our marketing strives to convey the experience that attendees will have. Our social campaign is working, our social networks are buzzing and the cash register is ringing.”