WORCESTER, MA May 12, 2020 – Due to the ongoing international pandemic of COVID-19, stART on the Street organizers have made the difficult decision to cancel their 2020 festival on Park Ave.
stART on the Street festivals in September have attracted tens of thousands of people to the one-day outdoor events for well over a decade. In addition to the 45,000 estimated to have attended the 2019 festival, the ½ mile stretch of Park Avenue is packed with over 300 artists, dozens of food vendors, many hands-on activities for children and adults, and multiple stages of live music.
“I know a number of immune-compromised people,” said Zlody. “Until there’s a vaccine, I just can’t imagine bringing any of them to a place as packed with people as stART on the Street can be.”
“As much as I think we could all use a carefree day of shopping, dancing, creating, and socializing right now, public health and the safety of our community are simply too important to risk,” stART Director Nikki Erskine added. “This was a very difficult decision for us to make, but one we made as a team.”
Internationally, numerous events scheduled for later in 2020 have been postponed, canceled, or moved online, including the Newport Jazz Festival, Spencer Fair, Woodstock Fair, Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, San Diego Comic-Con, the Sundance Film Festivals, and many highly anticipated concert tours. Even Burning Man, scheduled for late summer 2020, is going virtual this year. “Not to say that we’re Burning Man, but we’re in good company,” noted stART Performance Director Gabe Rollins.
stART Artist Director Samantha Sorrentino had been reviewing artist applications for over three months before this decision was made. “Even in the best case scenario, I can’t imagine stART will get the crowds this year that it’s seen in recent years. That means the artists won’t have the return on their time and investments they anticipate. Many artists work in collaboration with other artists or buy raw materials locally, and they can’t do those things right now. People who make their livelihoods in the arts aren’t sure when their next payday will come, and asking them to spend what funds they have to create goods for an event that might get canceled a week in advance just isn’t fair,” Sorrentino said.
“Based on the phased reopening plan released from the Governor’s office on May 11, if absolutely everything goes according to plan, the phase four ‘new normal’ won’t begin until September 18th, which is just 2 days before the date we anticipated holding stART on the Street this year,” said Zlody. “That’s a lot of assumption and risk which would be passed on to hundreds of vendors, performers, and small businesses, and that’s not a risk worth taking.”
“We review applications, but one of my favorite parts of stART is the curation that goes into planning who could perform. Bands can’t get together to record, practice or play in local venues, and street performers aren’t out entertaining crowds. The way things are right now, it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to do our best in bringing local talent together for 2020,” Rollins said.
“We love waking up at 3am, have shin splints by 10 and sunburns by 2, and have to take Monday off to pack it all away. But having our creative community as intact as possible in 2021 is more important,” Erskine commented. “With this ‘extra’ time, we’re tackling some of stART’s rainy day projects, and we’re looking forward to coming back bigger and better than ever in 2021.”
At this time, no decisions have been made regarding the December 6th stART at the Station event.