Bellingham Festival of Music Cancels its 2020 Summer Season Due to COVID-19
Board of Directors Cites Concern for Health and Well-being of Musicians, Audience, and Home Hosts
Season Was to Have Celebrated Beethoven 250, Women’s Suffrage 100 Anniversaries
For immediate release: Bellingham, WA.—With profound disappointment, the Bellingham Festival of Music Board of Directors has voted to cancel the festival’s 27th summer season, scheduled for July 1—24, 2020. The board cited its concern for the health of musicians, audiences, and home hosts in the era of COVID-19 when making its decision.
Washington State has been hard hit by the virus. And given the uncertainty of the disease’s trajectory, it was hard to predict whether the community would be sufficiently healed, the economy rehabilitated, and people reassured of their well-being to produce a 2020 season.
The program was to have featured two mini-festivals celebrating the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven and the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States.
“We are so grateful to all of our musicians for their continued loyalty, extraordinary musicianship, and camaraderie over the past 26 years,” wrote Board Chair G. Barry Hembree, in breaking the news to the orchestra musicians. “Your presence has been a great gift to our city, county, and state. We will miss celebrating Beethoven’s 250 and Women’s Suffrage 100 with you. But we look forward to welcoming you back for a brilliant 2021 season. Similarly, we are grateful to our audiences and donors who have allowed the Festival to flourish for 26 years.”
Artistic Director Michael Palmer said: “This is a profoundly uncertain and tenuous time for all arts organization around the world. With major orchestras, opera houses and the like broadcasting their season cancellations, it is only prudent for us to join our colleagues in placing the health and well-being of our patrons, musicians and our supporters at the forefront. In the meantime, we are already in the planning process for an artistically attractive and exciting 2021 season. So let’s look forward and, in the footsteps of Beethoven and paraphrasing his quote in his 9th Symphony from Schiller’s ‘Ode to Joy’: ‘Live your life like the sun striding across the sky, like a hero going to victory.’”
Knowing that many of the Festival musicians are experiencing financial difficulties due to furloughs by their home orchestras, the Festival is establishing a musician fund. Our patrons who choose to forgo a full or partial refund of their ticket purchase and others wishing to donate to this fund can help us provide some measure of financial support in the near future.
How to Request a Refund or Donate
Because the WWU Box Office does not retain credit card information after completing ticket purchases, patrons will be contacted over the next few weeks to obtain this information.At this time, they may also elect to donate to the musician fund. The Box Office should begin processing refunds by mid-April.Each refund has to be entered individually so it will not be a speedy process.Patrons are asked for their patience.
Although the WWU Box Office will likely be closed for some time, the refund process can be handled remotely according to Manager Jessie Phillips.Mary Pat Thuma, BFM Treasurer, will be calling ticket purchasers, but patrons may call her proactively with their credit card information or to make a donation at 360-303-0310.