After an emergency meeting today about the current virus pandemic, the Festival Chairman and Trustees have issued the following statement.
It’s been the hardest possible decision, but in some ways the easiest. We had no choice: with the heaviest hearts we are cancelling this year’s Festival of Chichester.
You won’t be surprised. It has been an absolutely awful few weeks, and there is every indication it is going to get worse. The health and safety of everyone has to be our paramount consideration. It always has been. A festival this summer wouldn’t just be impossible; it would also be inappropriate.
2020 would have been our eighth Festival and we had a remarkable line-up for you – a wonderful programme that will now never see the light of day, and that is a tragedy. The wider picture in the world is utterly miserable at the moment, and of course, we absolutely must take the wider perspective, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still feel very sad indeed that 2020 will be the year Chichester doesn’t have a summer festival.
Fortunately, we are in a relatively sound position financially; we have always been careful and it seems we might well see the benefits of that. It means that we can look forward to the 2021 festival with a degree of confidence. We are going to make it happen. Rest assured of that.
But at the same time, bringing this year’s festival to this point has still incurred significant costs.
Therefore, if you are a supporter of Festival events, we would ask you if you would possibly consider a voluntary contribution to next year’s Festival, a donation to the bigger cause of ensuring our survival. We would be immeasurably grateful – and you could be helping us hugely bring you an even better Festival in happier times next year. If you wish, please send your contribution as a cheque made payable to Festival of Chichester, to our Treasurer, Nick Sutherland, at Holly House, Chestnut Avenue, Chichester, PO19 5QE.
Alternatively you can make a transfer to our account, Festival of Chichester, sort code 20-45-45, account number 23868052. Mark the payment with the reference “Donation”.
Obviously, our box office launch at the Novium on April 1 has now been cancelled.
Let’s all look after each other in the meantime; let’s all get each other through this; let’s fix the 2021 Festival of Chichester on our collective horizons as a ray of hope the other side of the tough, tough months we are all going to go through.
Stay safe and all our very best wishes
Phil Hewitt, festival chairman; Barry Smith, festival co-ordinator; Festival trustees and committee
Image: Art at Chichester Cathedral