Newport Folk and Jazz festivals canceled

Updated at 3:36 p.m. on April 29., 2020.

THE NEWPORT FOLK and Jazz festivals have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. / COURTESY NEWPORT FESTIVALS FOUNDATION

NEWPORT Both the Newport Jazz and Folk festivals have been canceled this year, Newport Festivals Foundation Executive Director Jay Sweet announced on Wednesday.

The cancellation of the events, which draw in artists from around the world and several thousand people to the City by the Sea for multiple days of music, came shortly after Raimondo’s press briefing Wednesday where she said there may be a possibility of having gatherings of 100 people by August in a best-case scenario.

“This community is truly unlike any other in music, and I believe we can emerge from this adversity stronger and more connected than ever before,” Sweet said in a statement.

The festivals were not the only musical events in the state to announce Wednesday that they had been impacted by the pandemic.

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Newport Music Festival announced earlier in the day that its events schedule will not take place this summer.

The organization’s CEO and President Suzanna Laramee said that festival organizers are closely monitoring guidelines from state and local officials, as well as from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and realize that the festival “cannot proceed as planned.”

The festival has more than 60 artists and groups regularly perform at 21 total venues in Newport, Providence, Bristol, Middletown and Warwick, including at Newport’s mansions – The Breakers, Rosecliff, The Elms and Marble House.

Laramee said festival organizers are working on a “floating season” that will span through the winter holidays. Ticket holders will be contacted within two weeks and have the option of converting their tickets to a donation or for a full refund, Laramee said.

A portion of the proceeds from donated tickets will support the festival’s NMF Resident Artist Fund, which will support artists impacted by the pandemic, Laramee said.

Also on Wednesday, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra announced that it is canceling its previously postponed concerts scheduled from March through May.

Grieg’s Beloved Piano Concerto (March 13-14), Beethoven Symphony No. 8 (April 3-4) and Verdi Requiem (May 1-2), which were to conclude the philharmonic’s 75th anniversary season, will now not take place due to artist- and venue-scheduling conflicts combined with the pandemic. Executive Director David Beauchesne said in a statement that those conflicts and the uncertainty of when social-distancing restrictions will be lifted left the philharmonic “no other choice but to cancel.”

The philharmonic said it will still hold its 75th Anniversary Gala featuring Pinchas Zukerman and Amanda Forsyth on Oct. 11 – it was pushed back from June 13.

The Newport Festivals Foundation, the Newport Music Festival and the Rhode Island Philharmonic said their respective ticket holders will be contacted to either make a donation of their unused tickets to support the organizations or to seek refunds.

Newport Festivals Foundation said those who didn’t have tickets to the events are encouraged to donate online to the organization to aid music-education initiatives and provide grants to artists in need.

The philharmonic has also established a fund to support impacted artists, staff and faculty, and those who wish to support it can visit its website.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

This story has been updated to include the cancellation of the Newport Folk and Jazz festivals and add the cancellation of the Rhode Island Philharmonic concerts.

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