Festival of the Arts canceled for first time in five decades

The Festival of the Arts draws more than 300,000 people annually. Courtesy Festival of the Arts

A 50-year tradition will be coming to a halt this year to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Festival of the Arts was canceled for 2020. The event that features arts, music and performances was scheduled to take place June 5-7. The decision was made under the guidance of county, state and federal health officials.

“Canceling Festival for the first time in 50 years was a very difficult decision, but we need to keep the community’s best interests in mind,” said David Abbott, executive director for Festival of the Arts. “Festival leadership and our amazing team of volunteers remain committed to art for all and look forward to bringing the event back strong in 2021.”

Estimated attendance has been more than 300,000 people in past years for the annual three-day festival, and it relies on over 1,500 volunteers.

“All of our volunteer committees would normally be hard at work over the next few weeks planning this year’s event,” Abbott said. “With guidelines in place limiting gatherings, Festival’s board of directors and I felt it prudent to advise a halt of committee activity for the health and well-being of all of our volunteers.”

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Danielle Nelson is the staff researcher who compiles the weekly lists. She also was a Grand Rapids Business Journal/Grand Rapids Magazine staff reporter who covered real estate and construction, architecture, agriculture, sports, law, education, travel and tourism, energy and sustainability, and arts and entertainment. Email Danielle at dnelson at grbj dot com. Follow her on Twitter @Dan_Nels