We are postponing the West Edge Festival 2020 to open July 24th, 2021.
Over the past several weeks I’ve read more and more devastating notices of cancellations from our fellow opera festivals. We have soldiered on, buoyed by visions of the kind of show we could offer if we were able to perform at the end of July. I knew our fans were becoming increasingly hungry for some sort of cultural event, perhaps a socially distant one no riskier than a trip to the grocery store.
But in our hearts we knew that whatever we produced wouldn’t be the festival we had planned or dreamed of over this past year. It is likely that many members of our West Edge family wouldn’t even have attended, a disappointing end to a difficult season. Recent research showing how dangerous it now is to rehearse opera singers (they produce bionic spit!) clinched it. The safety of our artists, our staff, and our audiences must come first and it’s now clear that the risks outweigh the potential for reward.
While the decision was difficult, it was also liberating to change our focus to a year further out. And fearing for our performer’s health was becoming overwhelming. Because of this new thinking, I can now safely say that this decision is not devastating. It’s a relief. I’ve now shifted to looking forward to a full festival next summer with Katya Kabanova, Eliogabalo, and Elizabeth Cree performed just as we want them to be, without the compromises a pandemic would impose.
I’m happy to announce that most of the artists will be available to perform these works next summer, a testament to the enthusiasm and dedication of our remarkable family of artists and staff. In the coming year, we will fine-tune creative designs. We will have more time to fundraise so that perhaps we won’t be living quite so much on the eponymous edge. We already have in place the three operas—possibly four!—for the following season, now to be performed in 2022.
We are beginning talks about what else we might do this year in lieu of the summer festival - what a West Edge online presence might look like. I’m not a fan of filmed performance or living room recitals, but I am starting to think of possibilities that are artistically fulfilling and that can be used to employ artists. Stay tuned!
I’m grateful for the whole West Edge family which has been on this wild Covid19 ride with us these past months. I’m grateful that we have a team that has done careful financial planning over the past few years. This has kept us strong and we will be able to pay the artists, designers, and crew that had signed on for the festival at least a portion of what they would have earned this summer. Indeed, we have held this commitment as a priority from the start of the conversations concerning the effect of Covid19 on our company. If you have already purchased tickets, we will reach out to you this afternoon to ask whether you would like a refund. We hope you will instead designate the cost of your ticket as a donation, with 100% of donations going toward paying our artists and crew. If you are able to contribute even more, you can visit the donation page of our website.
Two weeks ago, I was devastated. This week, I’m ready to push ahead.