Largest rural performing arts festival cancelled

Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival has made the difficult decision to cancel May’s main event after advice from the Scottish and UK Governments on the current Coronavirus crisis.

The pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on local communities and venues across the region and the UK, with new restrictions taken this week to try to cut its spread.

Board chair Ken Gouge said the festival team had spoken to the performing artists, companies, funders, sponsors and all stakeholders involved in the project to ensure their safety first. The spring/summer line-up of the organisation’s Arts Live programme has also been cancelled.

He explained: ‘After following the measures announced by the Government – and in times of such extraordinary uncertainty – the only viable option for us was to cancel the 2020 Arts Festival,” he said.

‘We have been monitoring the situation closely and, following the Government’s advice, all Dumfries and Galloway’s venues have now closed their doors and all our local theatres have shut until further notice.

‘We are disappointed that we will no longer get to enjoy the planned performances with our audiences, however, this decision will help keep both them and the performing companies safe and that, above all else, is what is important.’

It is hoped to reschedule as many of the planned shows for next year’s festival – due to run from Friday to Sunday May 21-30 2021 – with talks already taking place with the performing artists. A packed programme of events is also planned for this Autumn as part of the year-round Arts Live.

Any tickets purchased for the May event will be refunded automatically directly through Ticket Source or, if they were bought in person, through Midsteeple Box Office.

In the coming weeks, the arts festival team will be working with funders and sponsors to seek guidance on how to proceed and ensure – where they can – performing artists, contracted freelancers and venues are supported in the current climate.

Ken said: ‘When we are through this crisis, we will come together as a community to create a programme of performing arts events that will support our region and performing artists in the future.’

The festival will now look to use creative and innovative ways to programme artists, including live streaming, ensuring that, in these difficult times, those artists continue to have a platform and a voice and the public can access performance art.

The festival’s team are currently working remotely following Government advice. You can contact them if needed via the email

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