Tuesday, June 8, 2021 – Last week, the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (CAFE) met with over 25 Members of Parliament from all political parties and government officials to press the need for immediate support from Ottawa. A full recovery for the industry will not be seen until Summer 2022 and in the meantime, the sector is operating in survival mode for its second season since the pandemic began.
“Our sector faces unique challenges: when an exhibition cancels their August 2021 event, they cannot generate the revenue they need to survive until August 2022” says Amanda Frigon, President of CAFE, “the rest of Canada will be able to open up fully and generate revenue in the coming months and through the winter, but our sector is not facing the same reality.”
Fair and exhibition organizations are non-profit organizations that are often volunteer-led or driven, with many that have been a part of their communities for a century or more. 83% have been unable to take advantage of federal support, and 32% are at risk of closing within 12 months if nothing changes.
“The difficulty in accessing funds has been due to a few factors. Volunteer organizations don’t have staff, therefore don’t have wages to take advantage of CEWS, but they still have expenses,” says Frigon, “that, or they are unable to take on additional debt through the loan programs or have been deemed ineligible. The fact that we are seasonal, non-profit, mass gatherings puts us in a very challenging position when trying to access funding programs.”
Budget 2021 may prove to be helpful to the industry at large, but CAFE anxiously awaits program details as we have seen over the past year that our organizations don’t fit neatly into one department; our sector represents heritage, tourism, agriculture, community engagement, infrastructure, small business and rural economic development. This has resulted in the sector continually falling through the cracks.
“CAFE’s goal therefore is to make sure the federal government takes ownership of our industry and gives us a home so that these great measures that have been announced don’t fall by the wayside for us as they have in the past,” says Frigon.
CAFE calls upon the government to:
· Amend Heritage policy to be explicitly inclusive of fair and exhibition organizations;
· Ensure fair and exhibition organizations do not fall through the gaps in Budget 2021 and
· Provide targeted fixed cost support in the amount of $74 million to bridge the gap until we can reopen.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Christina Franc, Executive Director