Exposure says goodbye


We ring in the New Year with some sad news: Exposure, Edmonton’s queer arts and culture festival, is shutting down. Full disclosure: I am a board member and while I usually don’t use this column to discuss activities I am involved with, I am making an exception this time.

Below, you’ll find the statement from the board explaining our decision; you’ll also find it on our website and Facebook page soon. Before I turn to the announcement, I want to reflect briefly on what Exposure means to me.

I knew about Exposure before I moved to Edmonton: I was working for a queer organization in Hamilton and it seemed impossible to us that this creative and wholly-original festival was happening in Alberta of all places. Impossible, yes, but also inspirational: if Edmonton, not exactly known as a queer mecca, could create something like Exposure why couldn’t Hamilton, or any other place that isn’t Toronto, Montréal or Vancouver?

I became involved with the organization in 2012. The 2011 festival had faced a number of challenges, evidenced by the fact there were only two other board members when I started, and the organization was undergoing a process of renewal. If you’re a fan of Exposure, you might recall that we did not host a festival in 2012 or 2013; instead, we took time to regroup and experimented with hosting events throughout the year. We partnered with some amazing events: Crip Tease, What I Love About Being Queer, the Born This Way: Two Spirit Voices conference and others. Exposure was not responsible for instigating any of these events; we just lent a hand and helped where we could. However, an odd disconnect began to form: while we as an organization were trying to figure out how to get more people excited about Exposure and bring back a festival, a whole host of queer cultural events were sprouting up all around us.

So while I am sad that Exposure is no more, I like to think that perhaps this is partly because it is no longer needed. To me, Exposure will always be more than the sum of its parts; it told the country that queer communities are as strong, political and creative as they have ever been. What better legacy could we ask for?

Dear friends,

It is with regret that we announce the dissolution of Exposure. The administration of the festival has proven to be too unwieldy and the resources too few, and so we have decided to retire gracefully rather than suffer a protracted decline.

We want to thank our founders, particularly Michael Phair, former board members, volunteers, community partners, sponsors and general supporters for making Exposure as successful and exciting as it was. Without you, Exposure would not have existed.

The last five years have been an absolute whirlwind; some of Edmonton’s best and brightest queer citizens came together and made an unforgettable festival which makes this announcement all the more poignant. However, nothing lasts forever and we hope that our closing will inspire new energy and momentum in the community. We are confident that Edmonton is a fertile place for the emergence of new queer arts and cultural forms and so hope that individuals who were involved with Exposure in the past as participants or volunteers continue to get involved with the wide array of exciting groups and projects happening in Edmonton as their energy continues to be an invaluable resource in our queer community.

Our remaining assets will be donated to the Pride Centre of Edmonton.

With much respect,



  • This is sad news. We started Exposure as a test, to see if it would take off as Michael knew it would. I think everyone involved with the festival should be proud for the amazing work they did. While I respect Ashley’s hope that Exposure is no longer needed, I think what is maybe also true, is that queer Edmontonians have found – as they always have – and will find, and are always finding, are ways to express themselves, create community, and support each other. From bathhouses to readings, to Eli Clare and Loud and Queer, from working with Dolan to so many meetings…. So many strong memories from the festivals.

  • For me personally this is sad news and as one of the founders we never thought that Exposure would be forever — but it would be a point of discovery, a point of entry, and a point of absolute Queerness purposely in Alberta and nurtured by the amazing people of Edmonton. Like many other projects I am struck by the brightness of a project that can come out of a lot of hard work and tenacity and the generosity and creativity of our communities.

    Thanks to all who shared, who came out and came together and I hope each of you are able to take experiences and memories of brightness into your lives.

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