The National Folk Festival has bowed to the inevitable and confirmed that the five-day Easter event at Exhibition Park will not go ahead in the face of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.
Festival board chair Jacqueline Bradley said that given the current public health direction regarding non-essential gatherings, it was impossible and inadvisable to proceed.
Public gatherings of more than 500 have been banned and social distancing rules are being enforced under the declared public health emergency.
The Folk Festival is a major event that attracts 40,000 people from the ACT and across Australia to EPIC over five days, with artists from throughout the country and overseas scheduled to perform.
Ms Bradley said the Festival would be in touch with performers, stallholders and volunteers in the coming days, and ticket holders would be advised as soon as possible about refunds or transfers.
“This is a deeply distressing time for everyone but the health and wellbeing of our community must come first,” Ms Bradley said.
“We recognise that the cancellation of this year’s Festival will have a significant impact on the folk community, and especially those who were scheduled to perform.
“We hope our audiences will do everything they can to support artists across any available platform at this difficult time.”
Ms Bradley said the cancellation was unprecedented in the event’s 54-year history, and as entertainment venues, festivals, concerts, theatrical productions close across the country, there will be a devastating impact on our creative industries everywhere.
“Tragically, our artists will share in this loss,” she said.
“We want to sincerely thank all our generous artists, patrons, volunteers, partners and friends who give so much to the Festival. We thank the Festival staff for their dedication and the many people from the folk community who make the National such a unique and beloved event.”
Late on Friday, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra announced that its Llewellyn Hall performances this week would not go ahead.
An announcement from Canberra Theatre is also expected soon with a statement on its website saying it was working with the government and representatives from all upcoming performances.
“As soon as we have answers we’ll be in touch with patrons immediately affected by cancellations and postponements. We appreciate your patience and we will provide further information as soon as possible,” it says.