Film fest cuts staff cites funding drop

‘I don’t think it’s anything out of the ordinary’

Three years of financial problems has forced Calgary’s largest film festival to pare down its operations lay off most of its full-time staff and rethink its business model.

“I don’t think it’s anything out of the ordinary” says Jacqueline Dupuis Calgary International Film Festival’s executive director. “I imagine most other arts and culture organizations are suffering the same challenges.”

Cuts in government and corporate sponsorship funding and years of financial missteps forced CIFF’s 10-member board to claw back its operations and ambitions.

Doubling in size since 2006 Dupuis concedes CIFF may have gotten too big too fast and is now having to “right size” in tighter times. The festival is now working with a “bare bones” operating budget of $750000 — half of its 2007 budget.

For several months local ticketing company RepeatSeat didn’t pay CIFF $120000 it collected in ticket revenue from the 2008 festival using the money to pay its creditors before going bankrupt.

“Coming out of 2008 with RepeatSeat and then having two difficult years on top of it we just quite frankly haven’t been able to recover” says Dupuis who is now CIFF’s only full-time employee.

Email: thowell@ffwd.greatwest.ca