The 49th Kentuck Festival of the Arts is canceled.
Kentuck’s Board of Directors voted unanimously on canceling the festival, always held the third weekend in October, because of the ongoing COVID-19 threat.
Instead, there will be a virtual celebration, with more details coming in August.
The cancellation is a big blow for Kentuck’s yearly fund, according to a statement released by the organization. They’re estimating losses of more than $200,000, and artists who attend the shows are also looking at a major drop in sales.
Kentuck is asking for festival fans to donate to their newly created Kentuck Festival Forever Fund.
Read the full statement from Kentuck below:
Dear patrons, guests, volunteers, and supporters:
Thank you. Thank you for caring about Kentuck. Thank you for sticking with us for 49 years, and thank you for filling out the survey we sent out regarding the Kentuck Festival this year. Passionate responses came in from all corners of the country, and despite the many different opinions, there was one undeniable commonality: every single one of the respondents cared about the arts and the survival of Kentuck. The staff read every single response and took into consideration everything that was said. Truly, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
The Kentuck Staff and Board of Directors spent an extensive amount of time reviewing local and national medical data, financial projections, and survey responses from the public. We spent hours trying to develop a financially-feasible socially distant festival that would still be the Kentuck Experience—for both our artists and our guests.
Out of concern for the health of our community, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to cancel the 49th Kentuck Festival of the Arts. This was always a worst-case scenario for our organization—we never imagined it would come to this. The fact is, the Kentuck Festival of the Arts has always continued, no matter what bad times or growing pains our organization or our world was enduring. The Kentuck Festival is our favorite weekend of the year, and we are heartbroken we had to make this decision.
Besides risking the health of thousands, our survey results and financial projections have indicated that an in-person version of the Kentuck Festival would not be profitable for our artists or our organization. The regulations and extra equipment needed to keep our artists, staff, volunteers, and guests safe would be financially detrimental to Kentuck Art Center & Festival. The socially distanced version of the Festival is not the Kentuck Experience that has come to be known and loved.
Kentuck is still planning to provide our community with a modified, virtual celebration of our artists. More details regarding this celebration will be announced the first week of August. Many of our artists rely solely on in-person sales for their livelihood and are having trouble pivoting to a virtual method for a variety of reasons. The Kentuck Staff is earnestly looking at ways to make this as successful as possible for our artists, patrons, and our organization.
So, what exactly does this mean for Kentuck Art Center & Festival?
It means we are in for a rough time. The Festival is our largest source of revenue and represents a significant portion of our budget for the next year. As an organization, we are estimating revenue losses in excess of $200,000. Our 270 artists are losing thousands of dollars of sales they need to make ends meet. Our local businesses are losing a two-day economic impact of more than $5,000,000. Our residents, artists, volunteers, and patrons are losing the joy of art and celebration of community when they need it most. But we will not sit idly by and let the Kentuck Festival—which has become a symbol of creativity and love in our community—slip through our fingers without a valiant fight.
Introducing: The Kentuck Festival Forever Fund
This Festival cancellation is the biggest existential threat Kentuck Art Center and Festival has faced in our 49-year history. Kentuck’s Board of Directors and Staff have sprung into action, formulating ways to continue bringing art to our community and empowering our artists. One leg of this plan is the introduction of the Kentuck Festival Forever Fund. The Kentuck Festival Forever Fund will ensure that the Kentuck Festival continues for years to come. Whether you’ve supported Kentuck for 49 years or you were planning to go this year for the first time, Kentuck has called you part of our family, and we meant it. You have stuck with us, and we ask that you continue your support now, when we need it most.
Your contribution will not only help to secure the future of the Kentuck Festival but will also support our efforts to develop new, sustainable programming that empowers our community and artists. Though we are all navigating tumultuous times, times with many disappointments and much uncertainty, Kentuck offers a comforting respite of positivity. Art—the urge to create it and the inspiration it brings—is not going anywhere. Neither is Kentuck. Our staff is looking towards the future and working ardently on new experiences that fulfill our mission to perpetuate the arts, engage our community, and empower artists. We will continue to be a positive force in our small corner of the world, connecting art with those who love it and offering a safe space for creativity to flourish.
Your support is crucial to Kentuck’s efforts to adapt and thrive under these extraordinary circumstances. Kentuck has faced other hardships, challenges we have overcome thanks to your love and support. We will get through this together, and our future will be brighter than ever before.
Throughout all these years, our community has stuck with us. Our organization will get through this because of you.
If you would like to contribute to the Festival Forever Fund, please click here.
The Kentuck Staff, Board of Directors, and Festival Steering Committee