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24 Mar 2020
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The Coronavirus continues to wreak havoc around the globe, and Spoleto Festival is the latest to fall victim to this pandemic. Spoleto organizers just announced the sad news, the cancellation of Spoleto Festival 2020.  They made the decision after a conference call with the 50 board members of the festival.  This is the first time in festival history. Spoleto Festival was one of the last holdouts in announcing a postponement or cancellation.  One of the other big holdouts: the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.  Just this morning, they made the official announcement  that the Olympics will be postponed until next summer. Locally, Nigel Redden and other Spoleto organizers had been holding out hope that by the time the festival rolled around  -  May 22nd - June 7th  -  perhaps the worst of the pandemic would be over. However, events of the last week changed that.  It brought home the sad reality that this situation is grave.  The threat is likely to last a while.

Statement from Spoleto General Director Nigel Redden:


Dear Friends,

Gian Carlo Menotti founded Spoleto Festival USA as a haven for artists.  Audiences could immerse themselves in performances that challenged, entertained, and often enlightened.

2020 promised to be an exceptional year for Spoleto Festival USA. Omar, the new opera by Rhiannon Giddens and co-composer Michael Abels, would open our celebration of the 350th anniversary of Charleston’s founding.  It would remember an African scholar who was sold into slavery through Gadsden’s Wharf in 1807.  Geoff Nuttall organized a Bank of America Chamber Music series that was extraordinary, even by his high standards.  Artists from New York, South Africa, and New Orleans were ready to arrive for concerts in the Wells Fargo Jazz series.

We were prepared to welcome back Scottish Ballet, which made its American debut at the Festival thirty-four years ago.  We were ready to welcome Caleb Teicher, a young tap dance wonder who first appeared at the Festival in 2009.  Our audience  was buying tickets in record numbers.  We planned to add performances of The Stations, Meow Meow, and Wonders at Dusk.  But the world has changed.

Our decision to cancel the 2020 Festival season is extraordinarily difficult and deeply painful to our artists, volunteers, staff, and, I think, to our audience. However, to continue plans in the face of COVID-19 would be irresponsible. We commit to making the 2021 Festival, scheduled for May 28 – June 13, 2021, an even more wonderful way to celebrate life and the arts. Our dedication to young, emerging artists remains the same, and together we can ensure a bright future for them and for Spoleto.

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We will be in touch with ticket holders and donors as soon as possible with additional information regarding ticket return options and refunds. We appreciate your patience as we work through this unprecedented situation.

Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones during these uncertain times.

  Read more about the announcement on the Spoleto website. or the Post & Courier.  Those who purchased Spoleto tickets may receive a refund, or they have the option of considering it a donation to the festival. These are frustrating and uncertain times.  It is hard to make plans or know what lies ahead, with any sense of surety or timeline.  Official declarations are happening at a rapid pace, that quickly shift the status quo. May we all have patience, wisdom and health as we face the days ahead. All best, Lowcountry Lisa your Isle of Palms vacation blogger

Photo credit: Spoleto Festival USA