File Photo

Organizers cancel Harrison Festival of the Arts this summer due to COVID-19

Festival staff exploring other options

After a glimmer of hope the Harrison Festival of the Arts may be moving forward this summer, it has been officially cancelled.

Due to concerns surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Harrison Festival Society and its board of directors announced Wednesday morning that the 2020 Harrison Festival of the Arts is no longer happening.

In late March, the Festival Society previously announced a “cautious” move forward as they were scheduled to announce the upcoming lineup in mid-May. Unfortunately, this was not meant to be.

RELATED: ‘Cautious and measured’: Harrison Festival of the Arts summer planning underway

“For over 40 years, the mission of the Harrison Festival Society has been all about celebrating culture and community,” said executive director Andy Hilhouse in a statement. “We have furthered this mission primarily through the July Festival of the Arts with live concerts on the beach and in the hall, art exhibits, theatre, literary readings, children’s programming and a vibrant artisan market. Sadly, in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not be able to produce our cherished annual summer festival.”

Hilouse stressed the paramount concern of safety and health not only for the attendees but for the artists and the volunteers.

“We feel it would be irresponsible to produce a live event that puts the safety of [our volunteers] at risk, and of course the safety of the audience, staff and performers,” Hilhouse added.

Hilhouse went on to say the cancellation heeds the instructions of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who said on her April 18 update, “Realistically, we will not be having those big events where people gather this summer. Those types of large, mass gatherings, this is not the time for that.”

READ ALSO: Theatre BC cancels festivals in response to COVID-19

The loss of this year’s Festival of the Arts is certainly a blow to an already empty summer with so many concerts, festivals and other special events on an ever-growing list of cancellations. However, Harrison Festival Society staff are looking for ways to have fun.

“While we may not be able to gather and dance with our friends to a live band in the Memorial Hall or gaze out on the lake as we meditate on the skills of a masterful musician, there are other ways we can get our social and cultural buzz in this time of limited social intimacy,” Hilhouse wrote. “The festival staff are currently exploring such options, whether virtual, or, if possible, at a safe distance, we will keep you informed as these activities develop.”

Hilhouse encouraged Festival fans to keep an eye on social media and to keep in touch as they look forward and continue to plan.

“We see this as an opportunity, even while we admittedly feel brokenhearted that we will not be able to have the July celebration that we look forward to all year,” Hilhouse concluded. “We are committed to providing the cultural heartbeat and human connections we know folks yearn for in these strange times.”



adam.louis@ahobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusHarrison Festival of the ArtsHarrison Hot SpringsHarrison Lake

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mission Mayor Pam Alexis to run for the NDP

Will take on Liberal Simon Gibson in the Abbotsford-Mission riding

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

MEDICAL MOMENTS: Dr. Andrew Edelson has served Mission for more than 45 years

Why Mission? ‘Mostly because it’s such a wonderful community,’ he says

BC launches 22 new primary care networks, including one in Mission

Will be adding family physicians, a nurse practitioner and a social worker

Missing Chilliwack woman last seen on Wednesday

Friends and family concerned for Joy-Lynn Leon, 42, who was last seen Sept. 23 on Mary Street

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

VIDEO: COVID won’t dampen Lower Mainland woman’s Halloween spirit

Langley’s Tanya Reid posted video offering suggestions of how trick-or-treating might look for her

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Father hopes journey to aviation-safety program inspires hope

Former South Surrey resident Greg Sewell hasn’t given up on quest to mandate older-plane retrofits

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Most Read