News / Edmonton

DedFest’s demise: Edmonton film festival might go

Festival director takes issue with city funding model

DedFest director Derek Clayton says the organization might move elsewhere after barely breaking even last year.

Kevin Tuong / For Metro

DedFest director Derek Clayton says the organization might move elsewhere after barely breaking even last year.

After bringing flicks to the city’s film scene for 10 years, Edmonton’s DedFest may soon rest in peace. 

“I’m out and I’m done trying,” said DedFest director Derek Clayton, in an interview Wednesday. 

Clayton said organizers behind DedFest — an independent film festival that has brought numerous genres to Metro Cinema — are pondering the event’s demise after barely breaking even last year.

“We have an incredible board, and it will ultimately be up to them if we end it, but I’m done with city council,” he said. “It’s very frustrating.”

Clayton’s frustration stems from “stagnant” funding through city arts grants, where the Edmonton Arts Council provides funding to groups looking for cash (DedFest received $5,000 this year).

“It should be more fair,” he said, alleging the funding model tends to favour larger events over smaller organizations. 

“It should be more egalitarian.”

In response to potentially seeing DedFest fold, Edmonton Arts Council executive director Sanjay Shahani said the group won’t be happy to see the group go.  

“It would be a loss to Edmonton and I don’t have any doubt to that,” he said. 

According to a city mandate in 2008, festivals selected for city funding should be given cash that represents 12 per cent of their operating budgets. 

But it’s become more difficult to reach that target, Shahani said, noting the number of organizations applying for funding grows each year. 

“We’re trying our best to keep those targets,” he said. “The potential for increases is limited because if there is growth in the festival pool and the money isn’t growing, then we have to work with what we have.”

Shahani said the arts council will soon embark on a new funding plan for festivals in 2019, when budget discussions begin at city council.

“It’ll result in new recommendations, and usually, new recommendations call for increased investment,” he said. 

As for DedFest, Clayton said the festival might move elsewhere.

“If the board wants to investigate opportunities, then it could move,” he said. “I don’t want to leave the fans here, but it’s a huge investment.”

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