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2021 Festival Season Update from NCTA

2021 Festival Season Update from NCTA

A Statement from NCTA Executive Director Lora Bottinelli

It has been nearly one year since our worlds changed so dramatically. After cancelling our in-person festival season in 2020, we were optimistic we would be able to return to a full festival schedule in 2021. But to our deep disappointment, all signs suggest that the threat of this pandemic will continue into the foreseeable future. While there is much to be hopeful about as vaccinations continue to pick up speed, much uncertainty remains and we, unfortunately, are not yet in a place where we can plan for large, public gatherings in early summer.

Today our partners at the Lowell Folk Festival shared the news that they are not producing an in-person event on the festival weekend (July 23-25, 2021). This announcement follows updates last month that the Montana Folk Festival sees an in-person gathering on the festival weekend (July 9-11, 2021) as unlikely. We have been hearing word from festival producers across the country who are making similar decisions for their summer 2021 events.  

The loss of these gatherings is distressing, economically and emotionally, for the artists, organizations, and crew who rely on these events, bring them to life, and are at the heart of the festival community that is created each year. The same sense of loss is true for the hundreds of thousands of visitors to these exuberant festivals and the communities in which they take place.  

In regards to the other NCTA-produced festivals for the 2021 season, we want to share an update on our planning to date: For the 80th National Folk Festival, it is our hope to produce an in-person event in Salisbury, Maryland, from September 10-12, 2021. We know that we must reimagine the festival and be willing to adapt as the ongoing public health crisis unfolds. We expect to update our festival community about plans for this event later this spring.

Our Richmond Folk Festival partners at Venture Richmond are similarly planning and considering the challenges for an in-person event the weekend of October 8-10, 2021, in Richmond, Virginia. Updates on their plans will be shared later this spring as well.

There are many other events that the festival community cares about. This update to the NCTA community highlights the four festivals with which the NCTA has a producing partnership. For those of you working on other events, programs, and festivals, we hope you are persevering during this challenging time. 

Looking ahead to a continued need for resources and opportunities, I want to highlight the RARRA campaign. To date over 260 resources have been shared with the traditional arts community through this effort. RARRA postings are inclusive of grant opportunities to mentorship programs and networking forums, from endeavors reaching from small rural towns to nationwide, all with the goal of amplifying reach and awareness of growth, connectivity, and resilience outlets for culture bearers and the organizations and workers who are part of the traditional arts community. 

As our season unfolds, I look forward to providing you with further updates and continuing to advance the mission of NCTA during these unprecedented times.