“Everything is uncertain,” Britt finds planning ’21 season difficult

JACKSONVILLE, Ore. – March is one week away, the Britt Festival is busy planning for a season not knowing when or how it will begin. With COVID, Britt is facing the same problems Oregon Shakespeare Festival and so many more are facing not knowing when in-person performances can begin.

Planning a summer’s worth of concerts is never easy, but in the age of COVID, with so much uncertainty it’s nearly impossible. That’s what the Britt Festival is facing, as it tries to bounce back this year after having no season last summer.

“Everything is uncertain and we are moving forward as best as we possibly can,” said Britt President, Donna Briggs.

She said the organization doesn’t know how COVID regulations will affect them months away from concerts.

“If a county is deemed at low risk, indoor venues can actually open at 50 percent. While outdoor venues are limited to 300,” said Briggs.

Britt’s venue can hold 2,200 people. That’s why Briggs is partnering with other outdoor venues, and lobbying the governor for looser regulations.

“We’re hoping the governor’s office will really take a second look at this guideline,” said Briggs.

If forced to only allow a fraction of their normal audience the organization could be forced to operate at a loss.

Even a 50% full venue isn’t good enough without some give from artists, said Briggs.

“It’s not going to work unless the artists are willing to come down substantially on their artist fees. It would not pencil out for us, no,” said Briggs.

As if COVID regulations aren’t enough for Britt, it also is trying to schedule performances. That’s never been so uncertain.

“This industry is an ecosystem, and everybody in the ecosystem is going to have to be willing to give a little to get a little,” said Briggs, “Some artists are postponing until 2022, but others are still on the fence depending on the vaccine”.

Britt had hoped for an extended season this year something Jacksonville businesses largely support.

One thing Briggs said will happen this summer is a classical season. More details will be released this spring. Briggs said some acts have been booked, but that’s depending on the COVID situation this summer.

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