The Lofoten Piano Festival 2020 was scheduled for July 6-11, but has now been canceled. We have been working for a long time for this festival. We have sold tickets and all of our musicians looked forward to arriving to create another exciting festival. This is obviously a sad day for us, says general manager Knut Kirkesæther.
For this year’s festival, 13 full classical concerts and over 15 smaller events were planned, in addition to our own quartet seminar for young string quartets.
– We are in a slightly different situation than festivals that are held in larger cities with a more local audience. With us at least 50% of the audience are visitors, many from abroad. These will most likely fail to come, which will hit us hard, says Kirkesæther.
In 2019 there were over 4000 tickets sold to the Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival. When many of these – as well as festival artists come from abroad – the situation creates great uncertainty for the festival to run.
– We have just above 20 invited artists who meet during the festival in various forms of interaction. Half of these come from abroad, which today are subject to various restrictions, says Kirkesæther.
We also have in mind that even though the situation should improve until the summer, we can assume that it will take some time before people are comfortable meeting in larger assemblies again.
We also think about the quality of the festival
In addition, with the responsibility for marketing and organizing the festival, Christian Winther Farstad believes that the cancellation can be for the festival’s best.
– After a good start with the ticket sales in January, it is now clear that people are waiting more for these types of events today. Since the audience is an important part of the festival, this is a risk to the quality. The experience is also about meeting people and enjoying classical music together.
He further assures that everyone who has purchased a ticket will of course be offered a refund on these. Information is sent out on an ongoing basis.
Partners, artists and the audience now receive continuous information about the cancellation. It constitutes a final line for the planning of the festival.
– Of course, it is sad to send out these messages. We know that many have been planning this for a long time. Several of our artists we signed over a year ago. We know that our audience has booked flights and hotels well in advance. At the same time, we think it is better to cancel in good time to give everyone the opportunity to change plans, says Winther Farstad.
We are planning to have an alternative festival already in November
Although we are now canceling the Lofoten Piano Festival 2020, we want to give Lofoten classical music already this year. We now have some time to plan an alternative festival already this fall.
– We are already aiming for November and are already in contact with concert venues and artists. This will of course be a completely different festival, but with classical music in the center, says Kirkesæther.
As is well known, Lofoten has seen a huge increase of tourists in the autumn / winter in recent years, which has been a proven investment in the industry. Maybe this can create new opportunities for the festival as well.
– The tourism industry in Lofoten has been particularly good at finding projects that attract people outside of the summer season. The darkness and northern lights are attractions in their own right, says Winther Farstad.
In late autumn, there are two attractions in particular that draw people, also from the Lofoten region.
– “The pre-Christmas adventure” in Henningsvær and the Christmas arrangements at Lofoten Kulturhus both attract a lot of people to Lofoten. This is an indication that the road is never too long when the offer is good. Maybe we can help stimulate this already in November, concludes Winther Farstad.
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