Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals Canceled

Newport Folk Festival 2017
Douglas Mason/Getty Images
– Newport Folk Festival 2017
A view of the crowd and bay from the top of Fort Adams during the Newport Folk Festival 2017 at Fort Adams State Park on July 30, 2017 in Newport, Rhode Island

Organizers announced the cancellations of Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Festival on Wednesday, with the two Rhode Island summer events becoming the latest festivals impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

“This is the letter I was praying I wouldn’t have to write, feeling we need the healing powers of live music more now than ever,” Jay Sweet, executive producer of both festivals, wrote in a statement. 

“I’m sure this comes as no surprise but in accordance with Governor Gina Raimondo’s wishes and the safety of us all, both our festivals are officially canceled,” Sweet continued. “As devastating as it is to write these words, it’s balanced with a renewed sense of, well, HOPE. It’s Rhode Island’s motto for good reason, and it’s also the feeling our festival family, constantly exudes when we come together in good times and perhaps more importantly, in difficult times as well.”

Newport Folk Festival celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2019, and was set to return to Fort Adams State Park from July 31 to August 2, with a lineup including Brittany Howard, Andrew Bird, Phoebe Bridgers, Nathaniel Rateliff, Big Thief, Yola and more. Newport Jazz Festival was set for the following week, with a lineup featuring Norah Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Diana Krall, Khruangbin, Jimmy Cliff and several others.

Sweet’s announcement also included a call to arms.

“While your safety was at the core of the present decision, your support will be at the core of our future viability,” he wrote. “Our ability to produce this festival in 2021 – and continue making a lasting difference in the lives of artists, students and music lovers like yourselves – is in your hands. Quite simply, we need your help.”

Per Sweet, ticket holders have three options: donating some or all of the ticket cost to ensure the festivals take place in 2021, applying refunds to tickets for next year’s events through the new 2021 Revival Membership, or claiming a full refund.

“For those of you who didn’t have tickets for this year, PLEASE consider making a tax-deductible donation,” Sweet added. “Help us continue these festivals, support year-round music education initiatives and provide grants to artists in need.”

Sweet said all announced 2020 artists have already been invited to perform next year, and that “we will all commune one way or another on our festival weekend.”

Earlier this month, Newport Festivals Foundation launched a relief fund for musicians impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

“I don’t know about you, but I lean on music to help me through good times and, more importantly, bad times,” Sweet told Pollstar. “You have to ask yourself what do the artists do? Who’s helping them?”

Newport Festivals Foundation instituted the fund because, Sweet said, “we just felt we couldn’t sit and wait for help or hunker in the bunker.”