With Coronavirus shutting down all live music and events across Northern Ireland, it came as a surprise to hear that the organisers of Stendhal planned to put on the first socially distanced festival.
The event made national and international news and was widely welcomed as some positive news for the music scene here.
Unfortunately the organisers have now confirmed that the festival will not go ahead due to advice from the government. Anyone who has purchased a ticket will be able to get a refund.
The full statement from the organisers is as follows:
We at Stendhal Festival have for the past several months been working diligently on hosting the first ever series of Socially Distanced Outdoor Music Festivals in Northern Ireland.
We have poured our heart and soul into this endeavor and fully believe we have an Event Plan and Risk Assessment that would allow the events to take place safely for all involved and which fully complied with the legislation as published under the Department of Health 2020 Act:
“The 30 person limit (for outdoor gatherings) does not apply to a gathering where the gathering has a recognised person responsible for organising or operating the gathering and it is organised or operated for cultural, entertainment, recreational, outdoor sports, social, community, educational, work, legal, religious or political purposes, or in an indoor sporting event or activity provided the arena in which it occurs is not capable of accommodating more than 5,000 spectators”.
However advice received this week from the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Advisor is that they believe our events pose a significant risk to public health and that no events should take place.
From the outset we said that while we would do everything within our power to get the events approved, we would always put public health first and act on guidance provided by Government.
Sadly as a result of this advice from the CMO and CSA and due to the fact that the R rate is on the rise along with the number of localised clusters and confirmed cases across Northern Ireland, we have no alternative but to make the decision to cancel all of the proposed events.
We await more detailed feedback on our Risk Assessment and Event Plan from the Department of Health in the hope that further clarity can be gained on the specific threats outdoor gatherings may pose to the public and that these documents can still help be a factor in getting outdoor gigs back on the agenda, if not for us now, for others in the arts and music industry going forward.
We are disappointed for all the acts on the bill who were hoping to get back on stage doing what they do best, for the people who supported us and believed in us by purchasing tickets, for those who were to be involved in the production element of the festival, the traders and the event staff who were hoping to secure some income from the events.
We would like to thank everyone who supported us on this quest to get festivals back on the agenda post lock-down, in particular our amazing team of volunteers and our local Councillors in Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, who made a brave decision to support our endeavours in June.
Refunds for ticket holders will be available via our website by the end of the week.
We look forward to welcoming everyone back to the farm on August 12, 13 and 14, 2021.
The Board of Directors, Stendhal Festival Ltd.