FOR the second time, the 2021 National Folk Festival will not go ahead.
In March this year, the festival was among the first major events in Australia to cancel in response to COVID-19, but despite months of research and planning, it has become apparent that it will be impossible to go ahead next year as hoped.
Continuing restrictions around large gatherings in a multiple-day festival environment and the unpredictable nature of events has meant it would be impossible to stage the kind of lively participatory event that is a hallmark of “The National”, the board said.
But, they say, “we continue to explore alternate events and activities for 2021 that will enable our community to perform, share and develop folk traditions” and they will continue to work with EPIC and the ACT government to create new events and see the event return in 2022.
A festival insider has told “CityNews” that even with a vaccine, the length of time needed to plan such a major event, which sees as many as 50,000 visitors pack into Exhibition Park each year, would make the Easter 2021 deadline difficult to meet. He said that the festival was in a good financial position and that folk-lovers were confident it would be back in full force.
As planning proceeds under the managing director Helen Roben and a shoestring staff, the Folk Festival is conducting a search for a new artistic director to steer the event when it does resurface.
As the board says: “The spirit of folk lives on.”