What would have been the 83rd annual Stern Grove Festival has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, producers announced on Thursday. It is the first time in the free-attendance festival’s long history that it has been canceled.
Originally scheduled to take place between June 14 and Aug. 16, the lineup would have included Animal Collective, Jimmy Cliff, Cuco, Billy Ray Cyrus, Macy Gray, Hanson, Tank and the Bangas and Tower of Power, as well as regular participants San Francisco Ballet and San Francisco Symphony.
Instead, Stern Grove Festival will launch a virtual video series of previous performances, called Best of the Fest. The festival, which is supported largely through donations, is seeking financial assistance that will go toward the future. The nonprofit obtained a grant that will match all donations made through the end of the summer. Donations can be made online.
“In these unprecedented times, and in an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our staff, artists, audience and the community, we made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s festival,” Executive Director Bob Fiedler said in a written statement. “We are grateful to our board, sponsors, and donors, whose support makes it possible to retain our core staff and turn our focus to planning for the 2021 season–we’ll be back better than ever!”
Festival organizers said they would try to reschedule some of the opening acts—slated to include Emily Afton, Cindy Lee, North Mississippi Allstars, The Onyx, Megan Slankard and Ana Tijoux—for the 2021 season.
Best of the Fest will highlight performances from the past 13 years of thigh Stern Grove Festival, including Sheila E. (2012), Pink Martini (2013), The Doobie Brothers (2015) and George Clinton (2016). The streaming events will include behind-the-scenes interviews with artists, scenic footage of Stern Grove and special guests.
The series will be available on the festival’s website, YouTube channel and Facebook page every Sunday from June 14 through Aug. 16.
Additionally, the festival will offer a virtual arts education program using many of the teaching artists who would have participated this summer. Classes in music making and dance will be offered on YouTube and Facebook.
The Stern Grove Festival is the Bay Area’s original outdoor music festival, which equally emphasizes rock, hip-hop, jazz, folk, classical, funk and blues. More than 75,000 people were expected to attend the festival this summer.