The AthFest Educates Board of Directors has canceled the annual AthFest Music and Arts Festival due to financial concerns related to the spread of the new coronavirus, according to a press release.
AthFest is a three-day celebration of the local arts community held every summer in downtown Athens. The festival was originally scheduled to take place on June 25-28. No headlining performers were announced prior to the cancellation. This year will mark the first time in 23 years that the festival has not taken place, according to the release.
Developed by AthFest Educates, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit encouraging the teaching of arts and music in local schools, AthFest brings together artists and performers from all backgrounds to reach a broad range of audiences in the area.
While many event planners in Athens have chosen to postpone activities to a later date, the AthFest directors chose to call off the event entirely for this year, said Jill Helme, executive director of AthFest Educates.
“We considered moving to a date in the fall,” Helme said. “But due to previously scheduled events, there are very few weekends in the fall that are able to accommodate a three-day event like AthFest.”
AthFest takes around seven months to plan, Helme said. While it is possible to plan it in three, the board is not comfortable selecting a new set of dates until it’s completely sure it’s safe for the community to gather together again.
Helme described the decision in the release as “very difficult” because the festival serves as an economic boost for performers and downtown businesses. The board plans to donate $10,000 to the Nuçi's Space fund established to support music and entertainment industry workers impacted by cancellations
The decision to cancel was also influenced by the financial situation of the nonprofit. AthFest Educates must secure half of its revenue by the time of the festival to avoid a loss of funds, Helme said. If the board moved forward with rescheduling AthFest and had to cancel again, AthFest Educates would suffer financially.
“We made the decision to cancel this year knowing that it would mean we would be able to produce AthFest for many years to come,” Helme said.