Pandemic forces cancellation of festivals across Gloucestershire
By David Wood
The coronavirus pandemic has led to the cancellation or postponement of a number of popular festivals across Gloucestershire.
Both Cheltenham Jazz Festival, due to take place from May 5-10, and Cheltenham Science Festival, scheduled for June 2-7, have been cancelled.
A statement from the senior management board of Cheltenham Festivals said: "It is with deep regret that Cheltenham Festivals has taken the decision to cancel this year's Cheltenham Jazz Festival and Cheltenham Science Festival, in response to the worst public health crisis in a generation. The safety of our festival-goers, artists, staff, volunteers, partners and the wider community is our priority, in relation to COVID-19.
"Our charity was born in 1945 during the Second World War as a response from the creative community to a global crisis. Since this time, we have brought the very best artists, writers and scientists to Cheltenham; created unique experiences and a year-round outreach programme to engage everyone with science and the arts.
"We are determined to secure our work for the future with the help of all those who have been so generous to support our festivals over the years.
"We know the cancellation of our festivals will be disruptive and disappointing. We ask for support and patience as we navigate our way through these unprecedented times and consider different options.
"Extraordinary circumstances such as this pandemic have serious financial consequences for us. As a not-for-profit charity we hope our supporters and audiences will be willing to work with us to find a way forward."
Ali Mawle, director of learning and public engagement, said: "When this crisis subsides, we are going to need culture more than ever to lift the spirits, foster community and galvanise creativity. We ask supporters to help us safeguard the future of Cheltenham Festivals so we can continue to play our part locally, nationally and internationally.
"We are brimming with ideas of how to bring world-class culture to Cheltenham in the months to come."
Meanwhile, 'heartbroken' organisers of the Lechlade Music Festival, scheduled for May 22 -24 and due to be headlined by The Boomtown Rats, have postponed the festival for a year.
A statement from festival director Jennie Rainsford said: "As the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to develop both in the UK and globally, the health and wellbeing of our festival-goers, traders, performers, volunteers and team is our number one priority.
"It is with the greatest regret that we have taken the decision to postpone Lechlade Festival 2020. We can confirm that the 10th Lechlade Festival will defer for one year until 28-30 May 2021.
"We are heartbroken at having to postpone the festival, given the preparation that goes into the event from all involved. We very much hope you will continue to support the festival and our dedicated team, we look forward to seeing you in 2021 for an extra-special event!
"Tickets will automatically transfer to next year's event. Attendees have been emailed - we are very grateful to everyone supporting the event by transferring tickets. Full information on transfers and refunds can be found on the website."
The Wychwood Festival, due to take place at Cheltenham Racecourse at the end of May, is also under threat, although a final decision over cancellation or postponement has still to be made.
A spokeswoman for the promoters said this morning: "We are expecting a decision to be made towards the end of the week."
Another victim of the coronavirus pandemic is the Winchcombe Walking Festival, due to take place from May 15-17.
A statement on the festival website said: "We will be refunding everyone who has already booked places. All we can say is keep safe and we hope to see you next year. At the moment we are allowed to go out for exercise, so make the most of the downloadable walks on our website www.winchcombewelcomeswalkers.com ."
Punchline realises what a devastating effect this virus is having on organisers of events, big and small. Our hope is that they will somehow manage to survive this hammerblow and come back bigger and better than before.
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