Organizers of the 55th Annual Pacific Northwest Music Festival (PNMF) have cancelled two-week Terrace event for the 2020 season.
Program coordinator Ken Juniper said the board carefully considered postponing the competition until the COVID-19 pandemic subsided, but decided Tuesday evening (March 16) to call it off entirely.
“We rapidly run into things like grad and final exams, and then finally with summer holidays a lot of kids are out of town. And there’s no telling if we’ll even have the venues back by then. We’ve looked into this in the past, as we always have to move it around, but we have to be careful at how far into the fall we push it.”
Entries for the festival closed Jan. 15 with 1,350 people confirmed. Juniper said a refund procedure is being developed for all performers, award providers, patrons and advertisers. Last year $12,930 in prize money was donated by local businesses and individuals.
The cancellation this year adheres to a provincial government ban on gatherings of more than 50 people to help slow COVID-19 infection rates.
In a statement on its website, the PNMF Board stated attempts were made to work around this restriction, and the decision to cancel was not taken lightly.
“Initially we investigated the possibility of saving the festival by restricting the audience size, cancelling all large groups, and similar ideas, however it quickly became apparent that none of these would provide an adequate level of safety for all concerned, including those outside the festival who are working in or using the various venues.
“We know the amount of time and effort that everyone involved, in particular the competitors, have put into preparation for the festival, because we ourselves have been there. However, as an arts community we must listen to the health professionals who know how these things work. There is a world of difference between what is happening now and other events we have dealt with in the past.”
Juniper said the board has received strong community support for its decision. The annual festival will resume in 2021.