The COVID-19 pandemic, it turns out, trumps the idea that “the show must go on.” IndyFringe Board Chair Gary Reiter and CEO Pauline Moffat have made it official: the 2020 IndyFringe Festival has been cancelled. What was to have been the 17th annual IndyFringe was scheduled for Aug. 13-23.
Reiter and Moffat issued the following statement: “The safety of our artists, staff, volunteers, and audience is our top priority as we navigate this difficult time, which is why the 2020 festival cannot move forward as planned. We have a social responsibility to support social distancing and follow the directives of the mayor of Indianapolis and the governor of Indiana.
The IndyFringe leaders said the decision was not made lightly. “We have a responsibility to our festival artists and staff, and we know that the financial impact of this cancellation will be significant,” their statement continued.
“Regardless of these challenges to the Fringe community, the staff and board of IndyFringe applaud the responsible measures being taken by the City of Indianapolis, State of Indiana and the Indianapolis Arts Council in response to this global pandemic, and fully support the calls for continued social distancing. The Fringe staff is working remotely, having closed its administrative offices until further notice, and is following all guidance in response to this crisis.
The statement continued, “The 2020 festival had a record 93 applications, setting up a stellar program set for the 2020 festival. We look forward to celebrating and sharing this work with the our amazing and loyal audiences in 2021: the artists of the 2020 festival have been offered first right of refusal for slots in the 2021 IndyFringe Festival and we are making full registration refunds to those who choose that option.”
Said Moffat, “The Fringe is a platform for so many diverse artists, especially for those who do not always have access to present their work. But the foundations of a Fringe are based fundamentally on people congregating months before the first performance, we could not in good conscious encourage people to begin rehearsing now. Without rehearsals and the various community-building events we organize, the artistic and economic foundations of the festival are severely compromised.”
Said Reiter, “We take the health and safety of festival participants and patrons very seriously, and know that this decision is in everyone’s best interest. Our job is to protect the IndyFringe Festival so that the curtain can rise again and that our community of artists and small theatre companies can continue to create, perform and earn money. It also means planning through scenarios to re-open and program our two year-round theatres that would have been unthinkable even a couple of months ago.”
Reiter and Moffat said that in the immediate future IndyFringe will be engaging in conversations with sponsors, donors, volunteers, and, of course, the 2020 festival artists to plan for how IndyFringe can best serve and support our community of artists and audiences. They said the juried mini-festivals – including OnyxFest, DivaFest, Ten Minute Play Festival and the New Play Festival – are still to be scheduled.
They said that as both theaters are reopened, restrictions will need to be put in place for audiences to feel safe and secure to protect audience and artists. “We will continue explore programming ideas and plan to rebuild after a closure of this length,” they said.