The 2020 Newport Folk Festival has been canceled due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Festival organizers announced the news on Wednesday (April 29), citing safety concerns and ever-evolving changes to best practices for large gatherings.

A press release explains that organizers of both the Newport Folk Festival and its sister festival, the also-canceled Newport Jazz Festival, determined in conjunction with Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo that it is too great a risk to hold the events in 2020. The state is currently banning gatherings of more than five people.

"This community is truly unlike any other in music, and I believe we can emerge from this hardship stronger and more connected than ever before," Newport Folk Festival Executive Producer Jay Sweet writes in a letter announcing the event's cancellation. "Although we won’t be able to gather at the Fort this summer, rest assured we have invited ALL the announced artists to join us next year. In the meantime, we promise we will all commune one way or another on our festival weekend. As always, we have some secret surprises in store as well, so stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.

"Until then," he concludes, "stay strong and folk on."

The Newport Folk Festival, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2019 with a star-studded event featuring the Highwomen, a surprise appearance from Dolly Parton and many more, is owned by the non-profit Newport Festivals Foundation, and both the Newport Folk and Newport Jazz Festivals raise much of the money with which the organization carries out its mission of music education. As such, organizers are asking for fans' and festival attendees' support despite the cancellation.

"While your safety was at the core of the present decision, your support will be at the core of our future viability," Sweet's letter continues. "Our ability to produce this festival in 2021 -- and continue making a lasting difference in the lives of artists, students and music lovers like yourselves -- is in your hands. Quite simply, we need your help."

Those with tickets to the 2020 Newport Folk Festival can opt to donate a portion of their ticket cost to the Foundation, apply the ticket cost to a ticket for 2021 or receive a full refund. Supporters are also encouraged to donate.

The Newport Festivals Foundation has been helping the music community during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the opportunity to play live shows and, therefore, make a living is currently off the table for musicians, the organization's Newport Festivals Musician Relief Fund, created in March, is giving money to artists in need.

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