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Newport Festivals Canceled for 2020

Bowing to the inevitable, the Jazz and Folk Festivals turn their attention to 2021—and the funding needed to get there

Alphonso Horne
Alphonso Horne at the Newport Jazz Festival, August 4, 2019 (photo: Joseph Allen)

It’s official: There will be no Newport Jazz Festival or Newport Folk Festival this year. Today (Apr. 29) the Newport Festivals organization announced the cancellation of both events due to the health risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although this announcement has seemed more inevitable with each passing day, that doesn’t mean it was easy to make. In a statement posted on the festivals’ social media channels, executive director Jay Sweet called it “the letter I was praying I wouldn’t have to write, feeling we need the healing powers of live music more now than ever.”

The decision was made additionally difficult because any such cancellation brings along with it major financial challenges—a particularly significant issue for the Newport organization, which supports music education programs across the country as well as the Newport Festivals Musician Relief Fund, created last month to help mitigate financial hardship for musicians during the coronavirus crisis.

In an attempt to address these challenges, all 2020 festival ticketholders have been given three options: to donate all or a portion of the ticket price to the festival organization’s charitable and administrative activities; to apply that money to a new 2021 Revival Membership, which includes three-day tickets to next year’s festival; or to receive a 100% refund. Both ticketholders and non-ticketholders are encouraged to make a tax-deductible donation as well.

“Although we won’t be able to gather at Fort Adams this summer,” Sweet wrote in his statement, “rest assured we have invited ALL the announced artists to join us next year. In the meantime, we promise we will all commune one way or another on our festival weekend. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks. Until then, stay safe. And in the words of George Wein, ‘don’t miss the beat.'”

Visit the Newport Festivals website for more information.