The festival has apologized after a heap of backlash.
This is Daniel Hughes. As he has in the past, Hughes applied to volunteer at this year’s Edmonton Fringe Festival. This year, however, they said no.
According to a letter he shared on Facebook last Saturday, Hughes' application to be a “friendraiser” was denied because he is non-verbal due to a disability.
“Over the years, our needs for volunteer support during the Festival have changed and evolved, and due to the nature of the current demands on our Festival, we are now obligated to engage only those volunteers whose skill sets match those of the job,” said the letter.
“For instance, all volunteers on the FriendRaisers Team must now be able to actively communicate and engage with Festival Patrons, both asking for donations and explaining how the Festival benefits from this support.”
As he noted in the Facebook post, the letter was addressed to his primary support person — not to Hughes himself.
Hughes was also upset that instead of being offered a different volunteer position, the festival extended an invitation to a “Community Day” event.
“I can't believe they think they will make things better by inviting me to a special needs party,” wrote Hughes. “Why can I not be a citizen and participate like others?”
A Facebook page setup by Hughes' family, Let Daniel Volunteer, noted that his aide can communicate verbally.
“They want someone who can explain how the donations are used and where they go, fair enough, but this issue is far from insurmountable,” wrote Hughes' brother, David.