To our lovely community,

As many may have realized, we made the decision to cancel Music Waste 2020 entirely. Initially, we hoped we could postpone the festival until later in the year, but that changed in light of the global anti-racism movement following the murder of George Floyd. The idea of putting on Music Waste Festival as a mostly-white group of event organizers feels inappropriate and disingenuous in a time when Black and Indigenous voices are asking for space to lead in creating lasting change in our communities. Our plan is to redirect our energy and resources to looking inward and having the necessary conversations about the fundamental ways we can restructure Music Waste with the goal of practicing anti-racism and accessibility at every possible turn in staffing, funding, lineup selection, promotion, show-running, and all of the other elements of putting on a volunteer-run local music festival. You can read our statement from June, including resource and donation links, here

To be clear, we will still be sharing the 2020 lineup that the Music Waste Listening Committee picked in the form of Bandcamp mixtapes and promotion on our website along with the awesome festival poster and logo designed by Juli Majer and Victoria Sieczka respectively. We won’t be overwhelming your social feeds to promote all of these things. We also won’t be putting on any live streams, shows, or fundraisers. 

We will be the first to admit that we have let Music Waste be an active iteration of a larger racist and harmful system that gives fewer opportunities to Black and brown people, meaning Music Waste has perpetuated and been complicit in white supremacy on unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), & Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) territories, colonially known as Vancouver.

This statement is not to discredit the ways that BIPOC, LGBTQIA2S+, and disabled folks have contributed to and influenced the festival. Their invaluable contributions as Music Waste directors, organizers, show reps, band members, volunteers, Listening Committee members, Community Council members and attendees have made the festival better in countless ways and we are indebted to their input, leadership, and involvement in Music Waste as well as in our greater community.

Music Waste Festival started back in 1994 as a group of friends rebelling against a larger festival that asked bands to “pay to play”—this was a group of mostly-white friends whose primary goal was to throw one really awesome, anti-capitalist punk party for their small community. Over the years, Music Waste has grown into a multi-day, multi-venue celebration that includes a much larger community. We have failed to expand thoughtfully and holistically, and have, at our core, continued to be a party run by mostly-white volunteers for our mostly-white friends. 

Music Waste Festival has been touted as space where punk sentiments, music, and art can thrive in a city that is hostile toward it—in retrospect, we don’t think this has ever been true in the context of Music Waste. The reality of our past and current organizing crew and our audience is that the vast majority of us are white settlers with the privilege of decent incomes; access to formal education; opportunities and resources to learn to play instruments; and the free time, capacity, and money to go to parties, play in bands and volunteer our time with little-to-no-pay. The way Music Waste is currently structured rewards people with these privileges, and because systemic racism denies these privileges to so many in BIPOC communities, the majority of those people are white.

Every year, we create spaces that are comfortable and fun for us and our friends, but that isn’t good enough. We do not want to reflect the systemic inequities that exist in our communities—we want to work to build a festival that defies them by creating safer spaces for Black, Indigenous, POC, LGBTQIA2S+, and disabled musicians and fans. Until we can do that, we can’t claim the anti-capitalist and punk ideals that Music Waste was founded on. 

Conversations about inclusivity, diversity, and accessibility have been happening within the organization for years, but we haven’t been moving fast enough or working hard enough to make Music Waste a platform that centers and supports the voices of Black, Indigenous, POC, LGBTQIA2S+, and disabled musicians and fans. We need to prioritize and accelerate initiatives that will accomplish this.

Going forward, here are some commitments we have made for Music Waste Festival:

Be more transparent 

  • Communicate openly about who holds power and influences festival decision-making processes 
  • Be upfront about the way the festival planning process works
  • Share projects and initiatives we are working on

Change our direction 

  • Develop clear goals and values as an organization, starting with a powerful mandate
  • Continue with initiatives that center inclusion like our Listening Committee and Community Council

Restructure our organization

  • Incorporate ways we can centre and support the voices of Black and Indigenous community members at all levels of the organization

Hear from more people

  • Offer ongoing opportunities for our audience and attendees to give feedback

Pay people 

  • Seek out funding with the goal of being able to offer paid roles at all levels for BIPOC folks, folks living with disabilities, and LGBTQIA2S+ folks in our community, as well as being able to pay musicians more

We haven’t developed a firm timeline for this work—things are precarious all around right now, and as a group of volunteers, our capacity fluctuates. We are grateful for your patience and support as we do this work, and we are committed to sharing updates on our progress. As always, we are open to conversations about any of this. Send us an email at or fill out this anonymous feedback form

     -  Natalie, Sabia, Dora, Phoenix, & Tom
         Music Waste Organizing Committee



FESTIVAL CANCELLED statement below




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