The sounds of summer are free



I’m done: with my first year of Creative Communications, the brutally cold weather, and continually maxing out my credit card.

It’s finally the end of the semester and I’m dreaming of summer festival season. TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival, Winnipeg Folk Festival, Manitoba Electonic Music Exhibition of Technology, Innovation & Creativity (MEMETIC), Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, ManyFest Winnipeg, Folklorama, you name it.

But my summer dreams are interrupted by nightmares. This summer, like most summers in between school terms, I’ll be working two or three jobs.

It’s a necessary evil I put myself through to pay for my tuition and everyday necessities. It unfortunately cuts down the amount of time I can spend relaxing. It puts my paycheques into savings, so I can’t spend it on fun stuff.

However, I have solved my penny-pinching dilemma, and I have turned my party time into polished resumé gold by volunteering.

For the past couple of years, I have rarely paid for any festival entrances and shows.

Volunteers get perks: free access to shows, free food, cheap drinks, close encounters with performers, new social circles and exceptional experiences that look good on and off paper.

Winnipeggers are known for getting things cheap and bragging about it. Some of us are thrifting connoisseurs, Groupon addicts or proud coupon clippers.

For years, I’ve embraced the starving artist and poor student reputation to get involved in situations where I can find and enjoy things I love for free.

I have even been known to dumpster dive for 10-foot paintings and find great art without spending a dime on Ikeas reproduced pictures that I don’t even consider to be art.

What I’m saying is: fun can be free too.

And not only has volunteering for music events or art galas benefitted me, but it also benefits the art and music community.

By no means are these festivals dwindling. The attendance for these festivals has grown as Winnipeg grows from small city mentality to big city living. But without the help of volunteers, our beloved festivals won’t be able to grow.

If festivals aren’t your thing, First Fridays in the Exchange is always another option with some galleries providing free wine and snacks.

This summer, don’t spend a dime, spend time. I’ll see you in September.


Joy Balmana can be found in her kitchen cooking Filipino or Korean food,

wandering galleries in the exchange, and experiencing Winnipeg’s newest hot spot

to talk about on her blog (

and capture and showcase on her Instagram (@byoj).