March 18, 2020
Dear Festival Participants, Parents, Teachers, Volunteers, Adjudicators, and Community,
You all likely know what this email is about. There have been developments and discussions and recommendations made within the past 48 hours that we as your festival committee can't possibly ignore. It is with the very heaviest of hearts that we announce that our 2020 Performing Arts Festival has been cancelled.
We recognize that in the uncertainty of the times, we cannot dwell on our disappointment for long and that our community and participants are depending on us and will be having questions. As president, I would like to address those here:
Entry fees, I believe, would be at the forefront of everyone's minds. Rest assured, we as a festival committee are prepared to refund every single entry fee paid for our 2020 festival. At the same time, we appreciate your support and recognize that many of you would perhaps choose to consider supporting our ongoing festival operations by donating the amount of your entry fee. We are prepared to offer tax-deductible receipts if this is your preference.
The logistics of this exchange will understandably take a bit of time. Within the next few days, we will have a simple form to fill out on the homepage of our website. Here you may indicate whether you would prefer a refund or a tax-receipt in the amount of your total entry fees. You will be asked to provide the amount paid (please reference your PayPal invoice/receipt to ensure our amounts match up), and to confirm your current mailing address (I worry that perhaps some of the addresses in our registration system could be outdated and would like to ensure that we are able to get cheque or receipt sent to you just as soon as we are able). While I will continue to closely monitor our festival email account, all refund/receipt related inquiries will be forwarded to our festival treasurer and you may be contacted by her as well if we have any questions. I realize those of you requesting refunds may be on a bit of a time-crunch to have these amounts returned. We will work as hard as we can to make this happen for you, but it may take a week or two to process all these figures and get them all mailed out. You should expect to see your refund mailed to you within 30 days.
Sponsors contained in this mailing list: The awards committee or myself will be getting in touch with each of you personally about how you would like to proceed. For the time being, we are prepared to carry forward any awards donations for continued use in the sponsorship of 2021 Festival awards and we appreciate the ability to use our general operations donations to keep our festival operation up and running for the upcoming season. We realize every business and individual has unique needs during these unprecedented times and would like you to know it is our desire to work with you first and foremost, that we may all support each other in whatever way we are able.
Finally, to our participants, parents, and teachers: Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. It has been an honor as a committee to work together in planning this 2020 festival for you謡e know that so many students have grown and stretched and improved themselves as a result of the process. No amount of virus, uncertainty, or life-upheaval will ever get to take that away from them. That success as theirs and theirs alone.
As president, my heart is full with nothing but gratitude for each and every one of you. It takes so many parents, teachers, accompanists, volunteers, adjudicators, and community supporters to pull a festival like this together, and we should all feel so proud that we each played a small part in making that happen. In my first year as president, it has been an absolute joy to form relationships with so, so many of you and I am so optimistic that as we weather this storm as a festival, we are surrounded by the best possible people to stand together with. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Wishing you all health, peace, and perseverance for the days to come.
With much love,
Heidi Baumbach, B. Mus.
President, Lacombe and District Performing Arts Festival
March 14, 2020
Dear 2020 Performing Arts Festival Participants, Parents, Teachers, Volunteers, and Adjudicators,
Thank you all for your patience in waiting for an official update from the festival.
We as a festival have chosen to take a few days here to really absorb the magnitude of the situation and its implications for the many member festivals scattered throughout the province, learning from their responses as well as the guidelines suggested to us by our provincial board, AMFA.
As your festival president, this is not a situation to take lightly, nor care to over-respond to in fear and reactivity. Personally, I have felt it necessary to take a few days to really take in the research and government recommendations, listen carefully and openly to our Alberta government, WHO, and Wolf Creek School Division updates, as well as offer up a prayer or two for guidance, along with the rest of our little festival committee. Here is our consensus:
First and foremost, we love our festival and its participants dearly. While we don't want to see anyone prematurely robbed of the opportunity to learn and perform, but we also would never want anyone to put themselves in harm's way or encourage them to pose any sort of unnecessary risks to others. Because of all these factors, we as a committee have decided to wait until two weeks before our festival is scheduled to take place to make any major decisions. This situation changes by the hour the the only way for us to make a responsible choice for our festival and community will be to take in whatever advisories are in place at that time, and act in accordance with what is being recommended to us. Our decision will be based on the recommendations of the AHS, WHO, the Province of Alberta, and the City of Lacombe—as well as a good solid dose of common sense.
It would be completely unproductive to speculate what these circumstances will look like in 5 weeks time, when our festival is scheduled to begin. However, I think it is safe to say that even in a best-case scenario, our festival will sadly look bit different this year. We will be requesting that those considered high-risk (we're sorry, some grandparents may fall into this category) stay home, you will be seeing hand sanitizer and hand washing policies everywhere, less instrument sharing, less contact with adjudicators, and we will be asking any student exhibiting any sort of questionable symptoms at all (coughs and sneezes!!) to please recuse themselves from our festival. Regardless of what the coming weeks bring, things WILL look different for us this year. And as the weeks unfold, we will get closer to having a realistic idea of what this different is going to look like.
You should all know that we are more than prepared to refund anyone's entry fee who will not be able to participate this year due to the COVID-19 restrictions and precautions—even if we do end up needing to shut down or postpone our 2020 festival. We as a committee believe there should never be any sort of fiscal incentives for anyone to feel pressure to put themselves or others in harms way, even if it seems just like a minor precaution at the time.
We also understand the logistics and risks posed by group practices and are aware that rehearsals may not be realistic for larger groups in the coming days. We want all of our directors to know that we respect any judgement calls they may be forced to make in the upcoming weeks and to please put the safety and well-being of their students first and foremost as they make these decisions.
For the time being, I think we can all agree that it is in the best interest of our participants for them to keep in preparing AS IF festival is going to happen. The preparation part of performing is where SO many valuable life-lessons are learned, potential is stretched, and character is reinforced. In light of all the chaos going on right now, every bit of normalcy we can give to these kids helps them so much, and there is something so healing/grounding about sitting down and focusing on a musical instrument or a few dance steps.
So, this is where we are at today. We will all watch and listen, and do our very best to continue with preparations wherever possible. We as a committee will inform you all in the most timely manner possible if and when the time comes for us to adjust our course as a festival. Sadly, I personally feel the situation will bring us MUCH more clarity in a few weeks' time, one way or another...
Love to all of you. Stay healthy. Stay safe. Stay grounded, but remain alert. We will all get through the days ahead, and I feel learn a thing or two about community, cooperation, and resilience along the way.
Wishing us all health, sanity, and wisdom in the days to come,
Heidi Baumbach, B. Mus.
President, Lacombe and District Performing Arts Festival