Downtown Greenville’s premiere Artisphere festival has been canceled this year, organizers announced on Friday, June 26.
Citing health and safety risks, Artisphere’s board president said the festival, which had been rescheduled for Aug. 21-23, would instead look to virtual platforms to present the event.
“Asking artists to travel from across the country to Greenville isn’t prudent at this time, and the social distancing protocols we would want to put in place to keep patrons safe would restrict festival attendance by 80%,” Linda Hannon, the board’s president, said in a statement. “It would not be the experience Greenville residents and visitors have come to expect from Artisphere.”
In March, with the rise of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., health officials strongly recommended canceling mass gatherings through May 10 — the original start date for this year’s event — prompting Artisphere and many other events to cancel or reschedule.
With 90% of its original artists, vendors and musicians remaining intact for the new dates in August, the Artisphere board had been optimistic that a three-month delay would be enough, according to the release.
But, “after months of careful deliberation, we feel that cancelling the event is the right thing to do for our artists and patrons,”Hannon said.
Artisphere presented by TD Bank had received 999 applications for 135 spaces for 2020 making it one of the most competitive fine art shows in the country, according to the release. Selected artists represent 27 different states and over 40% would be exhibiting at the show for the first time.
Organizers said they are now planning to offer a virtual festival that will include artist galleries, live chats and demonstrations, at-home DIY activities and more.
“The virtual event will spotlight artists and their work plus offer engaging activities to simulate the festival experience,” Artisphere’s executive director, Kerry Murphy, said in the release.
Details will be available on artisphere.org and Artisphere’s social media channels.
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With heavy hearts, we have decided to cancel the 16th annual Artisphere presented by @tdbank_us. With the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in our area, we feel it is in our duty to keep everyone safe. We are exploring ways to present an engaging virtual experience for everyone and details for that will come soon. In the meantime, please head to our website to explore the 2020 artists and show your support to them. We hope to see you on beautiful Main Street in Downtown Greenville in May 2021, stay safe!