GREENSBORO — The N.C. Folk Festival and the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society will present the city’s premier roots music festivals as a joint venture in September.
The 34th Carolina Blues Festival will be presented as part of the annual N.C. Folk Festival downtown the weekend of Sept. 11 to 13, 2020.
All performances will be free to the public.
The collaboration stems from the coronavirus pandemic, which has canceled arts and cultural events worldwide.
“Our decision to collaborate on a unified festival will allow our organizations to share resources, fulfill our like-minded cultural missions, and together lift up our community through the power of music,” said the joint announcement from Piedmont Blues Preservation Society President Atiba Berkley, and N.C. Folk Festival President and Chief Executive Officer Amy Grossmann.
“The biggest advantage is that fans of both festivals can expect the same high-quality artistry and entertainment as they would have,” Grossmann added in an email.
The Piedmont Blues Preservation Society has produced the Carolina Blues Festival for 34 years, making it the longest continuous blues festival in the Southeast.
The society previously had announced that the 34th Carolina Blues Festival, which was set for May 16 and 17 in LeBauer Park, was postponed until fall, on a date to be announced.
The event will still be called the N.C. Folk Festival, Grossmann said.
The Carolina Blues Festival will be featured prominently and recognized in promotions and via signage for the program content they’re curating and producing as part of the unified festival, Grossmann said.
This will be the third year of the N.C. Folk Festival, a free, mostly-outdoor, multicultural event which has drawn more than 150,000 people annually to center city. It spun out of the National Folk Festival’s three-year residency in the city from 2015-2017.
The latest news follows up on the folk festival’s announcement last month that it would go on in a modified form in September, but didn’t provide details.
Asked whether performances would be presented live or live-streamed online, and whether social-distancing measures will be taken, Grossmann said: “We are evaluating all of our options for presenting the festival.”
“The safety of our patrons, workers and artists is a priority,” Grossmann said. “We are supplementing our existing safety and emergency protocols with pandemic-related precautions, as recommended by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the Event Safety Alliance. We are in dialogue with our local public health officials regarding the development and implementation of the safety protocols we develop.”
Both festivals are in talks with various artists who may participate. They will finalize programming as they narrow in on the format of the festival presentation in coming weeks.
Berkley and Grossmann began discussing the opportunity to join forces in late March, as public health and economic developments resulting from COVID-19 were beginning to have a profound effect on the arts and events industries worldwide.
“As producers of events that bring people together in celebration of cultural expression, we carry a responsibility to provide a safe, entertaining, culturally relevant, inclusive environment for the artists and audiences that are the heart and soul of our work,” Berkley and Grossmann said in the joint statement.
“Our board and leadership team had several conversations in the early days of the pandemic about the realities we were facing with our original festival dates in May,” Berkley said in the announcement. “We discussed and explored several options for alternate ways and times to present the 34th Carolina Blues Festival, and we agreed that the best thing to do would be to rally and persevere with another champion, the N.C. Folk Festival.”
Grossmann said, “We are thrilled that the Carolina Blues Festival team will be part of the creativity and agility that will empower our planning for a unified festival in September.”
“We are blessed to have helpers and common ground in the respective missions and resources our organizations can contribute to this collaboration, and we look forward to sharing that with our community in the fall,” Grossmann said.
As of now, she said, the joint festival for this year is a one-time venture.
To learn more about the N.C. Folk Festival, visit ncfolkfest.com. The North Carolina Folk Festival will continue to post updates on its Facebook page (facebook.com/NCFolkFestival), Twitter (twitter.com/NCFolkFestival) and Instagram (instagram.com/ncfolkfestival).
Learn more about the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society (https://piedmontblues.org) and the Carolina Blues Festival (https://carolinabluesfestival.com/). The Piedmont Blues Preservation Society will continue to post updates on Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/PBPS85/), and on Instagram (instagram.com/piedmont_blues/).