Coronavirus: Safety and financial concerns factors for postponed summer festivals

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WATCH: Multiple summer festivals have been postponed due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 – Apr 17, 2020

It’s impossible to know exactly what things will be like in the coming months during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organizers from the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan and Saskatoon Fringe Festival announced their festivals will be postponed for the summer season this week.

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Safety and the uncertainty of what’s to come were the biggest reasons to postpone the summer festivals, but it wasn’t an easy decision to make.

The SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival brings out big names like Jann Arden, the Roots and John Legend, with up to 75,000 fans in attendance each year. All of the major planning, including finalizing the 2020 lineup was complete before it was decided to postpone the festival.

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“Our small staff and our board of directors spent many weeks and many hours discussing this, but we felt it was really the only decision to ensure the safety of our community which is, of course, our top priority,” marketing director Cathy McMurtry said.

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Postponing and potentially cancelling events of this size add huge financial strains.

Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan artistic producer Will Brooks expects indefinitely postponing this year’s festival will leave about a 70 per cent loss in revenue for the organization.

“Some of the other scenarios we looked at like trying to run a small festival later in the year or hold off our decision as long as possible… those ones came with even worse financial ramifications,” Brooks said.

McMurtry said they are still considering having a smaller music event later in the year.

“I really hope we’ll be able to do that and provide opportunities for people to come together, maybe in the fall or winter, but no firm plans are made at this point,” McMurtry said.

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Other summer festivals are still up in the air, including the Saskatoon Folkfest and a Taste of Saskatchewan.