“All-Stars” taking the stage to raise funds for Westfest

By Craig Lord – 

Westfest founder and producer, Elaina Martin seen here in 2014. Photo by Andrea TomkinsOn March 6, a taste of Westfest will come a little early. Some of the annual festival’s favourite acts are returning – alongside a new crop of performers for 2016 – for the Westfest “All-Star” Fundraiser, an evening of live-music, art, craft beer and more.

The party, hosted by Kitchissippi councillor Jeff Leiper at the Orange Art Gallery, features performances by artists including Juno award-winners Lynn Miles and Holly McNarland. Throughout the five-hour extravaganza will be spoken word performances, a drag show, a live art auction, and plenty of grub.

This is the first time Westfest, the notoriously free festival, has held a fundraiser. Elaina Martin, producer and founder of Westfest, says it became necessary to reach out to the community for funds when they lost sponsorship from the Westboro Village BIA in 2015.

“This is one of the many ways we’re moving forward with trying to make up for that shortfall of cash. Also, I didn’t feel like waiting until June to throw a party,” she says.

After years of providing free entertainment in the neighbourhood, Elaina felt people would understand if she asked for some support.

“There’s a time when you need to ask for help. And the time is now.”

Artists and sponsors have stepped up as well to give back to Westfest. All of the artists are donating their time, and in the case of the art auction, their livelihoods. Every aspect of the fundraiser has been sponsored and twenty volunteers will staff the event.

“It really shows the community is super behind supporting us and wants to see Westfest continue,” says Elaina. “It’s very heartwarming for me.”

So far, around three-quarters of the tickets to the fundraiser have been sold. Martin says that they’re on track to reach her goal of raising $20,000. She emphasizes that when people give to Westfest, Westfest always gives back.

“People are going to experience things at Westfest that they’ve never experienced before, says Elaina. “People are really going to get the bang for their buck.”


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