ValhallaFest, the first electronic music festival in the Northwest, will run from June 21 - 23 for its second year. (ValhallaFest Photo)

ValhallaFest receives grant to expand festival this year

The fund is partially supported by the province to grow B.C’s live music scene

ValhallaFest is getting a financial boost to expand their electronic music festival as they prepare for their second year.

Funded by the Amplify BC Live Music Program, which is supported by Creative BC and the Province of British Columbia, ValhallaFest will be receiving a matching grant of up to $18,000 to cover 50 per cent of the total cost.

“I’m excited about this because it’s really going to let us do some cool improvements for our main stage area this year,” says Jordie Laidlaw, director of art and co-founder of ValhallaFest. “We’re expecting the numbers to be higher, we’ve had more traffic going through our website and just through word of mouth.”

ValhallaFest is the first electronic music festival in the Northwest that made its premiere at the Lower Shames Estate property near Terrace in 2018. With almost 500 attendees last year, Laidlaw says that now that they have one year of experience under their belt — they’re planning to add more to the three-day festival experience.

“I definitely think [this grant] gives some legitimacy to our event… it adds a sense of acknowledgment that we are an arts and music organization,” he says.

“There’s been this amazing and large electric music scene underground in the North that’s been bubbling under the surface waiting for something like this to happen… I think it’s important to provide people a venue so they can express themselves in a fairly non-judgmental way and a place where they could be very safe as well.”

READ MORE: ValhallaFest kickstarts first year in Terrace

Laidlaw says he found out about Creative BC and its grants when he attended the Northern Exposure Conference in Wells, B.C last October. There, he met other festival organizers that proved that it was possible to envision a bigger platform for ValhallaFest.

He says he would like to introduce larger scale art pieces, along with black light gardens and projector art around the main dance area. And for any local artists that have a vision they want to bring to life, they’re willing to help build it and make it happen.

“The work that we do every year on the art projects is permanent, we don’t have to start from scratch. It’s just going to fill up with interesting, interactive art pieces.”

For Laidlaw, he says that a lot of the inspiration and mindset for ValhallaFest came primarily from Burning Man, an annual festival that takes place in the desert of Nevada, U.S.A.

“Until I went to Burning Man, I didn’t really make art but it changed what my view of art was and it inspired me to build stuff. I think it would be a neat thing to introduce that to other people.”

Alongside the art installations, Laidlaw says they’ll be constructing showers and flush toilets on site, adding trails to the campsite, and installing underground electrical wiring that would power their festival for many years to come.

READ MORE: First-ever Cosplay event comes to Terrace

Erinn McPherson, media and artist director of ValhallaFest, says that although they’re eager to expand the festival — they want to make sure it stays accessible for all.

“We’re trying really hard to keep the price of the ticket low and affordable for everyone, we don’t have VIP passes and there’s no backstage pass. If you’re on the grounds, you’re equal to everybody else,” says McPherson.

She adds that this year, they’re also pushing for more participation from the attendees as they want festival-goers to get to know one another more. Valhallafest will include “mini-events” where people can submit a small creative workshop of their own that they want to run, such as making crafts, music or any type of interactive session.

“There are so many great, artistic people out there so by involving the community, we’re not just a festival. We’re a community of creators and artists that are meeting together and dancing the night away.”

The Amplify BC Live Music program is funded by the province to stimulate the growth, creativity, and tourism of live music in BC. With a budget of $1.8 million, 73 projects overall have received funding to allow festival expansions such as the increasing the number of performing artists and staff, improving venue facilities and production quality.

ValhallaFest will take place this year from June 21 – 23.

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