The 2020 Savannah Music Festival has been canceled, according to a statement issued by the festival on Friday, March 13. The move follows the cancellation of the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival earlier this week over concerns of the spread of COVID-19 or the novel coronavirus.
"The 2020 Savannah Music Festival has been canceled at the request of Mayor Van Johnson, with support from public health officials," the statement read.
According to the festival statement, Dr. Lawton Davis, health director of the Coastal Health District of the Georgia Department of Public Health, said, "at a time of such uncertainty about the impact of COVID-19 on our community, we understand the concerns of community leaders. The Savannah Music Festival draws crowds from around the world and here at home, including many older individuals who may be at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. City leaders have the full support of the Coastal Health District in the decision to cancel."
"We deeply regret that we are unable to share this season with our patrons in 2020, but recognize that an aggressive course of action is justified to protect public and community health," the statement continued. "This cancellation applies to all concerts, donor events and festival education events Swing Central Jazz and Acoustic Music Seminar."
According to the festival statement, performances will be attempted to be re-scheduled, but refunds will be issued if they are unable to. Events planned outside of the festival, such as the April 28 concert with Lake Street Dive and the local education programs Musical Explorers and SMF Jazz Academy will proceed as planned until further notice.
"As other festivals and public events have been cancelled around the country, we hoped Savannah and SMF would be spared," Savannah Music Festival board chairman Tom Coy said in the festival statement. "The entire performing arts industry must be part of prevention efforts to protect our patrons, artists and crew. SMF’s board of directors is grateful to our community for their unwavering support during this difficult time and appreciates the hard work and dedication of the SMF staff."
Last year, the festival celebrated its 30th year with more than 29,065 attendees – 39% of those attendees coming from out of town, according to the year-end report from the festival.
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