Sylvan Lake’s annual music festival, Jazz at the Lake, will be seeing a little less money from this year’s festival thanks to an unannounced change from Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis.
According to Eric Allison, one of the festival’s founders, the festival was turned down for a raffle licence because of changes to the process the non-profit festival was unaware of.
The AGLC legal department wanted more clarity on what the raffles were for, especially from the arts programs that apply, Allison said.
“We are really disappointed. This isn’t something that only affects us, but any other arts program that applies for a raffle license,” said Allison.
According to Allison, the raffle part of the weekend-long event could potentially bring in as much as $20,000 for the festival, much of which would be set aside for the following year.
He says there were a few things that disqualified the festival from obtaining a licence. These include not having a charitable project and no “ongoing program” the community can participate in.
“The requirements just don’t make any sense,” Allison said. “They don’t consider an art festival to be charitable or music to be a participation activity.
“It’s like they don’t understand that music is the participation part, or why people go to a concert in the first place.”
Allison said he was disappointed the AGLC did not give Jazz at the Lake a raffle licence, even after explaining the many workshops and community involvement aspects of the festival.
“I explained to them that we always have free workshops and community involvement aspects to the festival each year, I also explained last year’s Project Discovery which was definitely based on community involvement.”
The change in the licensing process through AGLC could potentially affect more art-based programs and events.
Alberta Foundation for the Arts say they are puzzled by the changes and that no notice was given before said changes were put into place.
“I’ve spoken with [a representative from] the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and they say they are going to put more pressure on the AGLC for changes to the raffle licensing,” said Allison.
With the unexpected change, Allison said it will not change the plans to continue on with this year’s festival.
Plans are in motion for the Jazz at the Lake festival, which will run Aug. 16-18, and Allison says there will be some new events and shows put on over the weekend.
“We made quite a bit off of the raffle, but we aren’t going to let that stop us. We are going to continue on.”
Allison says some good news has come out of this process. The AGLC has agreed to review the requirements for a raffle licence for next year.
Jazz at the Lake submitted a two page letter to the AGLC to dispute the decision and to explain why Jazz at the Lake and other art-based programs should also be considered for licences.
“We won’t have a raffle for this year, but maybe we will see a change that will benefit not only us but other art programs in the province for next year,” said Allison.
Jazz at the Lake will return to Sylvan Lake in August with Juno award winner Laila Biali returning as the headliner.