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Artfest to end media partnership after backlash

Last Updated on August 5, 2022 by YGK News Staff

A controversial newspaper will no longer be included in future Artfest events after pushback from members of the community.

The Epoch Times is a right wing publication that, particularly in recent years, has published articles that many say are conspiratorial and allegedly promotes misinformation.

Some attendees were dismayed to see the company have a booth at this year’s festival, and felt that their inclusion didn’t align with the event or its theme of “Connections”.

A petition was launched over the weekend asking for the festival’s organizer, Lory MacDonald, to nix any future association with the media outlet, it had just over 100 signatures as of Tuesday evening.

“We want Lory to understand that partnering with such a toxic publication is what hurts not only artists, but also members of the marginalized communities targeted by the Epoch Times,” the petition reads.

“We want Lory to reflect on the community’s response, apologize and reconsider her partnership with this publication. And we wish Lory to commit to transparency when advertising for vendors and volunteers.”

After some backlash last week, MacDonald said she was concerned that excluding a company like The Epoch Times would only hurt the artist community involved and make the festival a less welcoming and neutral space as a whole.

On Tuesday, however, MacDonald said Artfest has taken the feedback into account and will no longer partner with the company going forward.

“Artfest Ontario has reviewed its cultural exchange relationship with the Epoch Times, and will no longer be including them as a sponsorship partner,” MacDonald wrote in an email.

“In 2012, Artfest accepted a sponsorship exchange to promote Chinese ballet, dance and orchestral performances backed by the Epoch Times. At that time, the editorial content of the Epoch Times did not conflict with our values. Regretfully, Artfest was unaware of the change in content over the last few years. We thank the community for bringing this to our attention. Artfest remains apolitical and focused on art, but we recognize that our association with the Epoch Times no longer reflects our mission or vision. Artfest would like to go forward with a renewed commitment to art, diversity and freedom of expression and will be more vigilant in aligning Artfest values with our partners.”

Artfest took place over the Canada Day weekend after a two year hiatus.

Editors Note:

Epoch Times denies assertions that they are right wing or that they associate with far-right sentiments. “We believe we are neutral and independent,” Epoch Times Publisher Cindy Gu told YGK News in an email response. “In reality, we do not conduct ourselves based on the political left-right spectrum. We do not see news in terms of left and right, but in terms of truthfulness. If a news development is true we will not hesitate to report on it, whether or not it appeals to the political tastes of some.”

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporterhttp://ygknews.ca
Born and raised in Whitby, Ontario, Owen has been living in Kingston for about three years after starting the band Willy Nilly. Prior to that he worked at CKLB radio in Yellowknife and completed studies in Niagara College's Broadcasting program.

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