Culture

The Orkney Folk Festival Rises Above Adversity – Again!!!

By Bernie Bell

Last year, the Orkney Folk Festival folk put together an on-line presence, which was well organized and produced the very best possible results in the circumstances.  Readers of TON might remember my telling of the, very necessary, cancellation of a live Festival last year…..  https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/05/23/looking-forward-to-next-years-orkney-folk-festival/ ,  anticipating the on-line events, and looking forward to this year, when the OFF might be ‘live’ again. But – the best laid schemes of mice and men – this year’s Folk Fest will have to be on-line again, while looking to 2022 for an all live – all action Festival!

This probably isn’t surprising news, and a big thumbs up to the Folk Fest organizers for taking such a responsible approach to the current situation.

Until very recently, they remained hopeful of being able to stage some form of live Festival in the spring, including the possible creation of an outdoor event, which would enable both social distancing and ventilation.

Last year was the first time in 38 years that the festival had ever been called off, and no one thought for a second that they would have to do it again for a second consecutive year.

However, the recent resurgence of Covid-19 cases throughout Britain, Scotland and even Orkney,  combined with associated lockdown restrictions upon both gatherings and travel, has created a rapidly-changing and ultimately unworkable backdrop upon which to plan for any live event just months away. As much as Orkney would love to welcome everyone back to the festival in May, it seems that’s not to be just yet.  Safety and avoiding risk to public health must come first.

The organizers are sorely disappointed to have to make this decision again, however they are looking forward to creating brand new online programmes for the Festival weekend, within the prevailing restrictions and as circumstances allow, celebrating Orkney and Orcadian musicians, singers and groups, as well as visiting artists.

As was the case following 2020’s cancellation, most, if not all, visiting artists scheduled to appear at the festival will now do so in 2022, with a number having already confirmed their appearances. OFF will make further announcements on this in due course.

Next year’s Festival will take place over the weekend of  May 26-29, 2022.  The Festival usually precedes the late spring  Bank Holiday.  This has been moved into June 2022 to align with the Queen’s platinum jubilee (!), but the OFF dates will remain the same as usual.

Our sympathy goes out to all the artists who have had an incredibly difficult year with live performances, and the majority of their income frozen for the time being. If you are able to support them through watching paid-for streams or online concerts, or through buying their merchandise, please do so – we need artists and musicians now, more than ever! 

And, if you’d like to help musicians in these tough times – as well as buying their music, you could get check out the charity ‘Help Musicians’  https://www.helpmusicians.org.uk/

To keep up to date with festival developments and news, head to https://www.orkneyfolkfestival.com/ , and you can also follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Here’s wishing the Orkney Folk Festival all the best for 2022 – Wow, that sounds far away, but, as you’ll be aware, time does, in fact, fly – even in these times.

Orkney Folk Festival in 2017 photo Nick Morrison

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