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Atlin Arts and Music Festival cancelled for another year

COVID-19 continues to take its toll on event
Paris Pick, left, performs with her band, The Ukes of Hazard, at the 2017 Atlin Arts and Music Festival. The festival has been cancelled for 2022 in light of continuing COVID-19 concerns. The pandemic also saw the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 editions of the festival. (Yukon News file)

The Atlin Arts and Music Festival has been cancelled for 2022.

Organizers announced the cancellation March 29, noting that while a more intimate festival for 2022 had been planned, COVID-19 is still present in the northern British Columbia community, and “there was reticence among the organizers that Atlin - a very small ‘end of the road’ town - was ready to welcome an outside organizers.

“When the organizers themselves became sick, resulting in downtime and overall exhaustion, it was deemed best to postpone and focus instead on a strong comeback in 2023.”

Prior to making the decision to cancel, the festival had confirmed local venues, headliners and a curator for the visual arts portion of the event with planning underway with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation, who traditionally open and close the festival and partner in the performances.

The decision comes after the 2020 and 2021 festivals were also cancelled due to COVID-19.

“When the festival was cancelled in 2020 due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the AAMF board of directors recognized an opportunity to reflect and reshape the festival,” said Dennis Beaudoin, president of the festival board. “The Atlin community and festival goers alike felt the festival had grown too large and in an undesirable direction, so COVID provided a much needed pause to consider the core values of the long-running festival and get us back to our roots.”

With the festival was cancelled in 2020, work that year began on a documentary about the festival’s history. Producer Matthew Lien is in the final stages of production on the film that features commentary and performances by festival alumni such as Bruce Cockburn, Danny Michel, Death, Stephen Fearing, Tom Jackson and many more. It also details the history and highlights over the years.

When the festival was again cancelled in 2021, Lien produced a summer concert series featuring 13 ensembles filmed in the community’s Globe Theatre and on the MV Tarahne. The series was available for viewing to a wider audience on YouTube and Facebook.

“The (festival’s) board of directors wishes to thank its supporters, and assures that its commitment to presenting music and art in the years to come remain strong,” it was stated in the announcement. “To this end, the (festival) is seeking a new executive director, and encourages community members with fresh ideas to (get involved) in a renewed Atlin Arts and Music Festival 2023.”

(Stephanie Waddell)

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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