Festspillene i Nord-Norge 2020 is cancelled


Åpningsseremoni 2017 Festspillene i Nord-Norge. Foto: Renate Jensen

The Festspillene i Nord-Norge board of directors have taken the decision to cancel this year’s edition because of the ongoing situation relating to the korona virus. The board, represented by the leader of the board, Rune Rafaelsen and artistic director Ragnheiður Skúladóttir is therefore invoking force majeure due to the government-imposed restrictions in Norway and the world today.

- We are facing an unprecedented and severe situation in the entire world, and the last weeks have made it clear that there is no other alternative than to cancel Festspillene i Nord-Norge 2020. Festspillene i Nord-Norge is an international arts festival, and it is not possible to continue the reservations of travel and stay for around 700 artists that were scheduled to take part in our event that gathers an audience of around 30 000, explains the leader of the board, Rune Rafaelsen.  

The festival has conducted a risk assessment, and the current uncertainty associated with the consequences of the pandemic makes it impossible to conduct the festival. Artistic director Ragnheiður Skúladóttir believes it is clear that a cancellation now is the right move to also create predictability for artists and suppliers.         

- The government-imposed restrictions related to COVID-19 came in the middle of our most hectic period. Even though we have been fully operational from our home offices, there are a number of activities that have not been possible to carry out as planned, ranging from ordering flights, preparing program presentations to ordering branding of the festival and ticket sales. We have now reached a point where it is not possible to postpone preparations anymore, and it is not justifiable for us or our partners to continue, explains artistic director Ragnheiður Skúladóttir.

Also, from an artistic perspective it proves impossible to go through with the festival as planned. Artists are prohibited to prepare their performances and co-productions because of the government-imposed restrictions in Norway and abroad. Several artists that were planning to present site-specific art projects have not been able to travel to Harstad to prepare their work during the pandemic. 

- As we realised there would be changes in the program even before it was launched, we decided to not produce the paper version of the program as planned, but rather go for a digital presentation. We really hoped to be able to conduct the festival, but as the restrictions have been prolonged, we realised that it would be impossible also from an artistic perspective, continues Skúladóttir. 

Even if there is no ban against cultural events in Norway after June 15, the government-imposed restrictions make it impossible to complete preparations according to our schedule. The artistic director considers it unlikely that it will be possible to conduct cultural events at all this summer, and underlines the importance of taking special care to protect vulnerable groups as the pandemic continues;

- This is the first time in the 56-year history of Festspillene i Nord-Norge that the festival is cancelled, and we are of course very disappointed that it will be impossible to present the amazing program we had planned. Even though this was a difficult decision, it is important to emphasize that right now, nothing is more important than slowing the spread of the pandemic and protect the health and safety of artists, audiences, collaborators, suppliers, employees and the general public. We also have vulnerable groups in our audience, and the concern for them weighs heavily as we now come to terms with this decision, concludes Skúladóttir.

All tickets sold to the 2020 edition of Festspillene i Nord-Norge will be fully refunded.