Baffled by the raffle: Disparity between Oilers’ 50/50 mania and Fringe donations reflects Edmonton’s priorities

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Meanwhile, around that same time Wednesday afternoon, the Fringe Festival’s fundraising telethon — Tears, Beers & Tickets You Will Never Use: A LIVE Fringe Telethon — announced that donations had exceeded $50,000. Not $5 million or $500,000… $50,000. Fifty thousand. Cause for celebration and gratitude to the Fringe donors, sure, but well short of the fundraiser’s $1 million goal.

Both events had the same 9 a.m. start time, so the 50/50 didn’t benefit from any kind of head start, but the disparity, particularly during a time when so many have lamented the state of our COVID-plagued economy, demonstrates where the city’s priorities lie.

“We’re not asking from a place of abundance, we’re asking from a place of survival,” said Fringe artistic director Murray Utas during the live telethon.

City and provincial governments will figuratively move mountains and literally reconfigure the downtown core to entice and accommodate the NHL while artists, musicians, theatre organizations and beloved venues struggle to survive. Ultimately, people are free to spend their money however they choose, and free to deal with the unintended consequences.

Some will state the struggle between art and commerce is unending. True enough. Some will point to the 50/50 draw’s comparatively favourable odds of striking it rich. That’s fair. Others will highlight the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation’s charitable efforts. There’s no denying them.

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