Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival will have to battle more than COVID-19 to return to normal - InfoNews

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Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival will have to battle more than COVID-19 to return to normal

Image Credit: Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival
August 14, 2020 - 7:30 AM

The Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival is taking an online approach during the pandemic this year, but whether it will return next year and in what format is anyone’s guess.

The festival will be live-streaming free performances through Black Press websites from Friday, Aug. 14, through Sunday, Aug. 16, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said festival executive director David Gonella.

“We’re going to have the shows posted so they can be rewatched after,” Gonella said, adding that videos will likely be found on the Roots and Blues YouTube channel.

“(We have) to pivot to stay relevant and give people some much-needed joy and a positive experience,” he said.

Roughly $700,000 in ticket sales were refunded this year after the in-person event was cancelled due to the pandemic.

“We’re operating at 30 per cent of our normal budget, just trying to survive until next year, but we felt like we need to program something… to give people the hope that things can be done when (circumstances are) against you,” he said.

But a big question mark remains whether the festival will be able to go ahead next year, he said.

“I would feel more optimistic if they had a vaccine right now that was being distributed to everybody… I think people’s expectations that they’ll be safe at a large gathering will rise (with a vaccine),” Gonella said. “We’ll be consistently battling people’s perception that it may not be safe to gather and until that (concept is overcome), we’re going to be in a weird holding pattern."

The U.K. held its first socially distanced performance this week, with 500 raised platforms to keep patrons apart, according to Moshville Times, but Gonella said those types of performances can’t go ahead while under B.C.’s Phase 3 of its restart plan, which limits event numbers to 50. 

Gonella said for next year, an online program is the safest option, and another is a festival with smaller venues, with people in smaller groups.

“(Patrons) are going to feel constrained regardless,” he said.

Register for the Roots and Blues Festival online

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