May, 2020

Dear CPAF Community and Supporters,

We would like to thank everyone who took the time to voice their concerns about the decision the Board made to only offer tax receipts for registration fees rather than a full refund. The Board has met several times over the past two weeks to consider all of the feedback we have received and want to provide an update to you all. We sincerely appreciate your patience at this time.

The Board has decided to issue refunds for those requesting one. It may take us some time as we wait for some incoming funding. Given our current financial situation, it is important to understand that there are not enough funds to refund everyone. If everyone chooses this option, a percentage of everyone’s refund will be issued.

If you are in the position to donate your registration fees back to the organization, then there is hope for CPAF to survive this pandemic and offer future programming. We understand these are unprecedented times and many members of our community are unable to do so.

We have had to take some desperate measures to preserve the cash that we currently have on hand in order to consider providing refunds. We will be suspending operational activities commencing mid-May until at least September. Our volunteer Board will oversee the financial aspects of the Festival. You should know that our Executive Director remains dedicated to the Festival but will also be impacted by these measures.

The Calgary Performing Arts Festival has been a staple in the Calgary arts community for over 89 years. Our festival has become one of the greatest amateur performing arts events in Calgary, and one of the largest amateur competitive festivals in North America. This three-week festival engages approximately ten thousand people each year and provides a platform for Calgary’s amateur artists to perform for an adjudicator, working to enhance their skills as performers.

As a Board, our initial consideration was how to protect the organization in order to continue to offer a festival to you and our community next year. As a result, we made the decision to issue tax receipts as our only option to continue operations. We now know this was not the right decision for our community at this time. We did consider hosting the festival online but due to the complexity of having so many performers and limited resources, this was not feasible. Our small team of staff are focused on addressing the ever-changing landscape of arts grants, the impacts of the cancellation and their own personal circumstances in the face of this global pandemic.

As you know, we were just under a month away from hosting the Festival when Alberta declared a state of emergency and all public events were not to proceed. While we were able to recoup the venue and adjudicator costs, we already incurred costs for staff, our registration system and marketing. These costs, along with our rent and other administrative services, are due monthly. Your registration fees help to cover the cost of the organization and the yearlong planning of our three-week festival.

CPAF has always relied heavily on arts grants, trust payments, government funding, fundraising, private donations and casinos to offset the Festival costs.

We’ve operated like this to keep the registration fee as low as possible so as to not be a barrier for a performer’s participation. Over the past few years, fundraising has become difficult given the current state of our economy forcing the organization to operate with very lean margins. Because of COVID-19, the arts grants we were expecting are on hold while they determine how to address the situation. Further, our casino dates, a key component of our funding, are postponed indefinitely.

Operating on lean margins means that CPAF relies on the incoming cash flow to ensure that we meet our contractual obligations. We do not have a reserve fund to rely upon. While we have managed to continue delivering our Festival each year even though Calgary has been in an economic downturn, this model is not sustainable. The reality of this current situation has only highlighted that we will need to consider some changes to our model going forward.


For those of you who desire more detail on our financial situation please review our FAQ.

Our Board members are currently focused on addressing your needs while also fulfilling the Festival’s mission to enrich our community by cultivating and celebrating amateur performing artists. If the Festival is to survive this pandemic, we would like to engage with our community online. Please let us know if you would like to support these efforts on a volunteer basis.

If you have any questions or concerns please email us at

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon

© 2021 by Calgary Performing Arts Festival