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Continued event postponements, cancellations have creatives scraping by

As new COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the chances of in-person festivals, shows and art walks continue to decrease


“Events are being cancelled or rescheduled again due to an increase in new COVID-19 cases.” Illustration published on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020.

In-person Phoenix and Tempe events continue to be canceled or postponed, and artists and organizers are struggling to plan for the unforeseeable future as new COVID-19 cases continue to rise at alarming rates.

Due to these extreme circumstances, many organizations have been forced to cancel events originally planned to take place in the spring and reschedule them for the fall months — some even postponing them until spring 2021 after cases rose again over the past month. 

For ASU Gammage, modified, in-person versions of their shows canceled in the spring haven’t been made possible yet.

In early 2019, Gammage released its show list for the 2019-20 Broadway season, which included “Once on This Island,” “Mean Girls” and “Come From Away” but was ultimately forced to cancel or postpone all of the remaining shows for the season and a few on the 2020-21 season. 

According to the ASU Gammage Recovery Fund website, which has raised $115,000 out of its $1 million goal, Gammage relies on its Broadway series to generate 80% of its funding.  

Theresa Dickerson, director of marketing and communications for the theater, said although Gammage has faced major financial losses since the start of the pandemic, she is hopeful they will return for in-person performances soon.  

“It has had tremendous implications for us, but it is a constant wait for when we can have shows return," Dickerson said. "We don’t want to lose momentum with our staff. We want to be ready to go the moment we can safely swing open our doors.”

Dickerson said Gammage released a digital connections series that includes everything from master classes to virtual performances and Facebook Live events with Broadway actors. 

READ MORE: ASU Gammage, Kerr keep performances alive digitally amid COVID-19

“Arts are important, and I think people realize that now more than ever,” she said. “There is a need to feel inspired and uplifted and the arts provide that.”

The Tempe Festival of the Arts, according to its website, usually holds events in March and December that include as many as 350 artists that line Mill Avenue and surrounding streets with booths.  

At the start of the pandemic, the festival's organizers decided to cancel its spring event, which would have marked the organization’s 43rd year in a row producing a spring art show. 

Tessa Nicole, an oil painter who has participated in the festival for the past three years, said the cancellation left a hole in the Tempe art community.

“We get to interact with people, which is the biggest part of being an artist,” Nicole said. “You want to share a part of your soul with the people buying your work, so having (the event) being taken away has been a little difficult in the emotional area of art.”

However, the Tempe Festival of the Arts is producing a modified version of its fall arts event this year, which will take place from Dec. 4 through 6. 

Changes to the fall event will include socially distanced booths but will still provide a variety of food and artwork spread across the 10 block footprint, according to a press release from Downtown Tempe Authority.

Participants march at the annual Pride Parade on Sunday, April 12, 2015, in downtown Phoenix. 

The LGBTQ+ community has looked to the Phoenix Pride Parade and Festival for an event of connections and acceptance in years past, but the event has now been rescheduled twice due to coronavirus concerns.

Phoenix Pride, originally scheduled earlier this year for April 4 and 5, was postponed to Nov. 7 and 8, and recently was rescheduled again for April 10 and 11, 2021. 

According to Phoenix Pride’s website, this year’s spring festival would have marked the organization’s 40th year holding the event. 

The upcoming event in 2021 plans to feature 17 stage performers, including the Neon Trees and drag queen Jessica Wild, as well as an arts expo and food vendors.

Jeremy Helfgot, the spokesperson for Phoenix Pride, said the festival represents much more than a fun-filled weekend for the LGTBQ+ community.

“That couple of days every year of the pride festival is what they live for," Helfgot said. "It’s that one weekend when you can really be yourself. There’s a lot more to it in weight than just rescheduling a run-of-the-mill festival.”

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