After less than a year in the job, the Ottawa Folk Festival’s artistic director Dylan Griffith quietly stepped down before Christmas, leaving Bluesfest’s Mark Monahan in charge of booking acts for the 18th annual folkfest.
“Basically he left by mutual agreement,” Monahan said. “There were decisions he had to make and issues around the changes, and we both decided that maybe it’s better if he went.”
Griffith had a two-word response to requests for an interview: “Old news,” he wrote, declining further comment.
Following a nationwide search, Griffith, a former Whitehorse resident, was hired last January to “hipify” the struggling festival and attract new audiences. He replaced Ottawa musician/facilitator Chris White, who co-founded the festival in 1994 and helped to build it into a family-friendly, musically adventurous weekend in picturesque Britannia Park.
Griffith booked a bold lineup for last August’s event that included hip-hop veterans Arrested Development, but the festival’s main stage was rained out on the final day, sending the event deeper into debt.
Bluesfest, Ottawa’s massive summer music festival headed by Monahan, stepped in and bailed out the cash-strapped folkfest in November by providing funds to pay outstanding debts. As part of the takeover, Bluesfest replaced a handful of the folk festival’s board of directors, bringing in experienced Bluesfest board members Bob Provick, Connor Grimes and James Leal, as well as the Black Sheep Inn’s Paul Symes.