San Francisco International Arts Festival Has Been Cancelled Due to the Current Health Crisis

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San Francisco International Arts Festival Has Been Cancelled Due to the Current Health Crisis

It is with regret and sadness that the San Francisco International Arts Festival (SFIAF) must announce the cancellation of the 2020 Festival program. The multidisciplinary event was to run in partnership with the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture (FMCAC) from May 19 - 31. The cancellation will mean monetary and equivalent losses in excess of $200,000 for Bay Area artists scheduled to perform at the Festival. As with many other cultural and other organizations throughout the world, the reason for the cancellation is the necessary government restrictions placed on public gatherings as a result of the global outbreak of corona virus.

The Festival was among the last performing arts organizations in the Bay Area to concede that it would be impossible to open this spring. The reason the Festival was perhaps more reluctant than other arts organizations to close its doors was the nature of its relationships with the more than 50 plus individual artists and ensembles (40 local and 10 international) that comprise the festival program every year.

Local artists had been planning their Festival projects for up to 18 months beforehand and had raised tens of thousands of dollars to underwrite their respective Festival productions. Foundation income is usually contingent on a specific outcome (a production) and a lot of the funds have already been expended on creation, preparation and promotion of the Festival performances. This, compounded by the loss of projected box office income, in-kind donations and cost-free space that was to have been contributed by FMCAC, resulted in a deficit to local artists of over $200,000.

Festival director Andrew Wood said of the cancellation, "The level of commitment the artists make to being in the Festival means it is extremely difficult for us to simply cancel without considering all of the possibilities first. We owe it to them to make an extra effort to provide a platform for their work. As such, we tried to explore every option and permutation before letting go. Although ending the program was ultimately inevitable, it does not make it any easier or mitigate the losses to the artists. They are primarily sole-proprietors, independent contractors and small non-profit businesses. Recovering from this type of financial hit will be difficult and take a long time."

"It's not as if they can go to another theatre and perform their project there instead. Every space in the Bay Area is closed for the foreseeable future and, even if they were open, most of these venues will charge a considerable amount of money in rental fees. That was, and continues to be, one of the charms in partnering with the Fort Mason Center. The amount of staff time and rental space FMCAC provides at no cost to the Festival and the artists that it features is in excess of $50,000."

SFIAF 2020 artists included: Adrian Arias, Anita Felicelli, Art Critique Comedy Show, Bandelion, Bay Area Theatre Sports, Bons Tempos Theatre Company, Brian Copeland, Chitresh Das Institute, Chris Carlsson, Cinematic Theatre, Eth-Noh-Tec, Fanna fi Allah, Florante Aguilar with Michael Dadap, Juliana Delgado Lopera, Heesoo Kwon, INI TAT, inkBoat, Janusz Prusinowski Kompania, Jenna Bean Veatch, Karl Evangelista Quartet, Kiandanda Dance Theater, Laleh Khadivi, Luminance, May-lee Chai, Mele Broomes, Melody of China, Pop-Up Theatre, Rosewater Vigilante, Nancy Au, Nejad, Notoriety Variety, Pulp, Purnamasari, Rhea Speights, Safehouse for the Arts, Samudra Dance Creations, Seinendan, Sinnoi, Speakeasy Storyteller Series, STEAMROLLER Dance Company, Stephanie Hewett, Surplus 1980 in collaboration with Christine Bonansea Dance Company, Tien Hsieh and Us in the U.S. and Virpi Pahkinen Dance Company.

Members of the public who have bought tickets for this year's Festival will receive refunds on all purchases from the FMCAC box office. They can choose to donate the money back to the tickets to the artists by donating through the Festival website.

The 2021 Festival is scheduled to take place at the Fort Mason Center from May 27 - June 6. SFIAF has invited all of the artists who were part of the 2020 program to participate the following year as well.

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