Staunton Music Festival 2020 Postponed
Under normal circumstances, Staunton Music Festival 2020 would be scheduled to open in just under four months. However, as you are certainly aware, we are not living under normal circumstances today. Indeed, even after social distancing restrictions are eased and some local businesses slowly start to re-open, we believe attendance at major festivals and concerts will not rebound until much later. The arts are one of many industries suffering greatly due to the pandemic.
With concerns of public health foremost in mind, the SMF's Board of Directors has decided to postpone the August 2020 festival until August 2021. We are saddened to announce this news, as we know how many of you look forward eagerly to the festival each summer. SMF is a cultural highlight for many, many people.
The next festival is scheduled for August 13-22, 2021.
Below we provide additional information to hopefully answer your questions. We will address how to handle purchased tickets at a future time, and all ticket holders will be contacted personally.
Your patience, understanding, and continued support are deeply appreciated. We eagerly hoped to see you all this summer and celebrate the return of our musical friends from around the world. But the reality of the situation calls for caution first, and we must heed that warning.
Rest assured: we are developing exciting plans for a different kind of musical experience this summer, to which you are all invited. Stay tuned for more information. We look forward to seeing you in Staunton next summer! Until then, stay well and keep in touch!
Jason Stell, executive director
Carsten Schmidt, artistic director
SMF Board of Directors
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why did the board decide to postpone the 2020 festival?
First and foremost, the board has a responsibility to protect the health and welfare of all people associated with SMF: patrons, performers, hosts, volunteers, and staff. The health risks associated with bringing together 80+ musicians from around the world, as well as attracting audience members from 25+ states, including some hotspot regions, are very serious. In addition, we must adhere to federal and state guidelines on group gatherings--and the picture is unclear if concerts of 300 people would even be legally permitted. Financially, we forecast attendance would be reduced by at least 30-50%. If we incur full expenses to stage the festival but with such substantial losses in ticket revenue, SMF would need many years to recover from the deficit.
It's only April. Why has the board decided this early?
The amount of advance planning needed to successfully mount the festival each summer requires us to be finalizing many details already, including performer travel, volunteer housing, rehearsal schedule, seasonal staff hires, etc. Such steps are nearly impossible given the current uncertainty around COVID-19. In addition, an early decision provides clarity to patrons and performers alike, who can adjust travel plans and pursue refunds as soon as possible.
Postponed? What does this mean for the concert programs planned for 2020?
We are shifting the entire schedule of concerts from August 2020 to August 2021--same works, same performers. Each scheduled concert will simply be moved to the corresponding day of the festival in 2021. There may be minor changes along the way, but we fully expect nearly every piece to remain programmed for 2021.
The dates for the next summer festival will be August 13-22, 2021.
I've already purchased tickets for 2020. What should I do now?
Nothing immediately. Our system allows purchased items to be refunded or donated, and we need a short time to prepare that process. We will be contacting all subscription and ticket holders in the coming weeks to explain the options available and how to proceed.
Will anything be happening with SMF this August?
Yes! We are currently developing a project to include videos, online content, and educational background about SMF programs, past and future. This will not substitute for the beauty of live performance, but we are hoping to use this enforced hiatus to explore a deeper experience of world-class music, made available to anyone with internet access.
More information will arrive by email and our social media channels in the near future. We invite you to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel for the latest information.
How substantial is SMF's financial loss from this change? How can I help?
As August ticket revenue alone accounts for a third of our annual income, we are facing a serious challenge. The postponement will allow us to save some expenses, but other administrative expenses cannot be turned off. You can help by opting to donate your purchased tickets or making a new contribution online. Simply click the button below. Thank you!