Extreme Weather: A Threat to Festivals?

May 8, 2014 - A U.S. federal scientific report released Tuesday affirms that climate change 'has moved firmly into the present.' And it may well have a detrimental impact on festivals and outdoor arts events.

Summer in March 2012 North AmericaThe 840-page report says that climate chane is happening now and that it “threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including through more extreme weather events and wildfire, decreased air quality, and diseases transmitted by insects, food, and water.” Extreme weather events will include more and more droughts, storms and heat waves. The report is said to be the most detailed and U.S.-focused scientific report on global warming. And Canadian scientists were prompt to remind us that the climate system doesn't know the 49th parallel.

While this report was being released, 27 representatives of presenting networks and arts services organizations were gathered in Toronto to talk about business model innovation in the arts. One of the concerns they raised had precisely to do with climate change and its impact on festivals and outdoor arts events. In the lights of events such as the stage collapse at Ottawa Bluesfest or the cancellation of outdoor performances due to heat, key questions need to be asked:

  • How will festivals bear the financial burden of building stronger, safer stages and big tops capable of resisting extreme gusting winds?
  • What impact weather incidents have had and will have on the liabilty of festivals – and on their insurance premiums?
  • To what extent may heat wave affect attendance?
  • Should festivals start to build 'heat wave' reserves in addition to their rain funds?
  • Should festivals establish plans and procedures to reduce the risks of heatstrokes among festival attendees?

Is your festival or events affected by these issues? We would liket to now. Please share your stories, comments and advices on our Facebook page.



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