Local music festival emulates the feeling of Burning Man

Last week TRU was treated to a study on the Merritt festival Bass Coast and it's impact

Bass Coast co-founders came to TRU last Wednesday to present on the festival, to drum up interest and gather volunteers. (Justin Moore/The Omega)

On March 21, co-founders, Andrea Graham and Liz Thompson of the music festival Bass Coast presented the history of the festival, as well as their personal experiences with creating it and to show other innovators how to create their own event. 

Graham and Thompson started out with creating a variety of festivals and said they were personally inspired by the feeling of community they found at Burning Man.

“The focus was to inspire participation of all the attendees in an artistic way that made them feel comfortable,” said Bass Coast production manager Anna Hilliar.

The first few years, the event was first held in Squamish, B.C. Thompson stated that they hoped that “the feelings that you’d experience would correlate with the event itself, thereby letting the memory being associated with Bass Coast”.

“We did not intend to become a role model for feminism, but due to the fact that we’re in a male-dominated industry, we hope that the event can transcend beyond gender,” added Thompson.

The event has a major focus on the community ethos, attempting to give many positive experiences, but still infuse a sense of artistry. The group also then created an arts grant program that gave local artists the opportunity to share their creations at the festival.

One of the hardships that was faced was when the founders had to move the site of the festival due to a few disappointed neighbors with the sound to enforce a bylaw. The event was then moved to Merritt, where two years later the community was growing larger with international artists showing interest in the event and having local artists collaborating with others in order to show scope.

When asked about the process of marketing for the event, Graham stated that there are no external sponsors. 

“It’s more centered around a low budget, in order to gain a personal relationship with the community,” Graham said. “It was a very trial and error basis, but we wanted to keep the focus on community.”

The one main concern that Thompson had was the problem on associating their brand without permission.

“We haven’t had too much of a problem, we just ask them politely not to use our brand and they are very apologetic about it, but that seems to be more of a present problem,” she said. 

When asked what advice they would give to someone who also wanted to start their own festival, Thompson advised them to continue to keep taking risks and too not let things that aren’t planned stop you.

“You always have to take that opportunity to make that no into a yes,” Graham added.

Bass Coast will be taking place on July 6-9, in Merritt, British Columbia, Canada.