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Show must go on, but Nanaimo Fringe Festival hit with equipment theft

GoFundMe set up to help recover costs of sound and lighting gear stolen in Old City Quarter
The show will go on, but possibly with some technical difficulties after Nanaimo Fringe Festival staff discovered rented sound and lighting gear valued at $7,000 was pilfered from a locked storage container on Gallery Row in Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter. (Photo submitted)

Nanaimo’s Fringe Festival is feeling the sting and the technical difficulties of a theft of approximately $7,000 worth of sound and lighting equipment.

The theft happened sometime overnight Thursday, Aug. 11, from a locked shipping container located on Gallery Row, a lane off of Fitzwilliam Street in Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter.

Bryony Dixon, artistic managing producer for the festival, said the equipment was locked up in the container after it was used for a free outdoor preview event Thursday night. The annual Nanaimo Fringe Festival gets underway today, Aug. 12.

“It’s really a shame just as we were about to start the event,” Dixon said. “We had a free preview event last night and then the shows actually start from today. It’s never good timing, but [this is] particularly bad. We basically had it all locked up last night, after our technical rehearsal, in our little storage box, that was nicely donated to us, and then we came back this morning about 10 a.m. and there’s metal filings on the floor, the lock’s missing and someone … professionally, I think, drilled it out and got in there.”

The stolen items were all rented and included speakers, stands, lighting, cables and other gear.

Dixon said festival staff managed to scramble and get enough rental equipment from suppliers to go be ready for the first showtime Friday.

Reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson, confirmed police are investigating the theft.

“There’s some drill marks where they may have gone in and taken the locks off,” he said. “[Festival staff] are scrambling now … but they’ve got limited cash flow. They’re hoping the public will come forward.”

The Nanaimo Fringe Festival is non-profit and all proceeds support the artists.

“We’re so small we can’t afford to have these kind of capital expenses,” Dixon said.

The list of items stolen include two YSL EF12P 1200 Watt powered speakers, one Shure GLX wireless microphone system, a LIHON rechargeable battery, two 50-foot microphone cables, seven three-prong, 25-foot cables, four Orion 18 LED lights and a Soundcraft 10-channel analogue soud mixing board.

Organizers have started a GoFundMe page to raise money to help cover the costs of the lost equipment.

“We’d love for people to come out and support the artists and see the shows and just be under the understanding that maybe there might be some technical difficulties today and just to remember that all the ticket sales goes to the artists, 100 per cent of them. That’s the fringe financing model, so we – the vendors and producers – don’t take anything from that,” Dixon said. “That’s why the GoFundMe and we’re really appreciating everyone who’s already supporting us through that.”

To contribute, visit

For more information the fringe festival and this year’s shows, visit

Anyone with information about the theft or the location of the stolen equipment is asked to call the Nanaimo RCMP detachment non-emergency line and quote file No. 2022-27961.

READ ALSO: Queer stand-up comedian will ‘tell all’ at Nanaimo Fringe Festival

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Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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