The Lofoten Piano Festival 2020 was supposed to take place July 6-11, but has now been decided to cancel. 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 shame 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 are most likely to fail and will hit us hard, says general manager Knut 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.
– We have more than 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 if the situation improves towards the summer, we can assume that it will take some time before people are comfortable meeting in larger congregations again.
Also think about the quality of the festival
As market manager and board member of the festival, Christian Winther Farstad also believes that the cancellation can be for the best of the festival.
– After a good start to ticket sales in January, it is now clear that people are more waiting for these types of events. 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 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 influx 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 draw people out of the summer season. And 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 dinners at Thon Hotell Lofoten both draw a lot of people to Lofoten. This is an indication that the road is never too long when the offer is good. Perhaps we can help stimulate this already in November, concludes Winther Farstad.