Today, with a heavy heart, I have to announce that we are canceling the 2021 Columbus Arts Festival.
I can’t believe that I have to write this again; however, there is simply too much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic to responsibly host an event that draws hundreds of thousands of people in early June. As I write this I am aware of the fact that new cases and hospitalizations are going down; but they are still dangerously high and new, more contagious, variants have the CDC rightfully concerned. Meanwhile vaccine distribution is slower than many had hoped and inconsistent from state to state.
As much as we desperately want to celebrate a return to gatherings this year, we recognize that we must put the health and safety of our patrons, artists, performers, vendors and sponsors first.
Given the logistics and work involved in producing the Columbus Arts Festival, we had to make a decision sooner rather than later. Please know that we have discussed and investigated other options—from moving the date to scaling down. But the fact is, an event of this magnitude requires more than a year of planning. There are many moving parts, from space availability to artist availability, permits, volunteers, infrastructure, and most importantly the safety and security of the attendees. We cannot easily pick up and move literally or figuratively. It’s also worth noting that a scaled-down event comes with its own challenges as out-of-state artists then have to decide whether they can recoup their expenses with smaller crowds.
All of these factors and more were part of lengthy discussions before the board made the difficult decision to cancel for 2021. Artists who held their spot for 2021 will, of course, be refunded their fees.
There is good news. With vaccinations underway, we feel more confident than ever that we can have a Columbus Arts Festival—a great Festival—in 2022. We have dates: June 10-12, 2022. And we have a new location: the Arena District.
As our city grows and changes, the Columbus Arts Festival wants to respond to those changes in a way that benefits our artists, patrons and the overall community. The Columbus Arts Festival has occupied three different spaces in its 60-year history, and the move to the Arena District is just the next chapter for the Columbus Arts Festival while the Scioto Peninsula undertakes the exciting new development west of COSI.
We’re grateful to a city with wonderful neighborhoods that grow and adapt with us and we’re looking forward to still being connected to the downtown riverfront, as well as ample parking, easy access from any direction and proximity to other city amenities.
Stay safe, stay healthy and we look forward to seeing you soon.
— Tom Katzenmeyer, connect with Tom on LinkedIn.