ANN ARBOR – This season of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival has been canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Organizers called it a “difficult but necessary decision" to cancel all free outdoor events that had been scheduled for June 12-July 5. The move comes after the festival announced in late March the cancellation of its indoor ticketed series.
Festival executive director Mike Michelon said that although A2SF staff are heartbroken, there are plans in the works to keep it alive somehow -- whether that be virtually or in small gatherings outdoors.
“The one thing that’s on my mind is when you’re in the business of bringing people together -- knowing that you’re in a moment when people need that more than ever -- we know that we’re not going to be totally able to recreate it, but we’re trying to find the opportunities to bring people together beyond streaming," said Michelon.
These opportunities could include pop-up concerts, drive-in movies and collaborative art projects where people can participate in person but gatherings would remain small.
Michelon said the festival has been following local and state COVID-19 guidelines and said any in person programming would be dependent on whether or not it could be put on safely and responsibly.
When asked about funding, Michelon said that festival partners and members of the community have been understanding during these unusual times.
“As far as the funding goes, the one thing about this crisis is that we don’t really need to spend a lot of time explaining our situation to folks," he said. “Everyone, in some way, is hurting. Everyone gets it. Those in the arts, culture and live event business are in the medium or longer term uniquely threatened. We certainly include ourselves in that, but I think (everyone is) feeling it.”
Throughout May, A2SF will be releasing announcements on adapted events for members of the public. However, Michelon said he and his team will soon start looking ahead to plan for the 2021 season.
“We’re all expecting a new normal and trying to understand what that is,” he said.
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