Bard on the Beach has confirmed it will not be staging a theatre season at its outdoor Festival site this summer.

Instead, the Festival’s 32nd Season will be digital, offering a slate of new online content and events with programming and distribution details to be released in the coming weeks.

A key barrier to staging a Festival in 2021 for in-person audiences is Bard’s unique production model. It takes considerable time to erect (and later completely remove) its theatre tents and site facilities in Vanier Park.

The Festival explored a range of scenarios aimed at downsizing and modifying its in-Park model to reduce costs and complexity, while not compromising artistic quality and the safety of its teams and patrons.

All those scenarios required that site construction start no later than May 1, to be ready for a mid-July opening – the latest the Festival can delay the start of public performances given that weather conditions in the fall require the Season to end by early October.

The May 1 deadline passed without the required start-up conditions in place, and without assurances that in-theatre audiences will be able to gather in the tents by a Festival start date of mid-July.

A further issue was the challenge of ensuring critical health and safety protocols were maintained for Bard’s large artistic and production teams.

Artistic Director Christopher Gaze: “It is a deeply difficult call to make. We see the faces of those who depend on us, and the impact Bard has on the Vancouver economy, sector employment, and the community’s love for our iconic summer event. But the conditions we need to present a safe and satisfying in-person Festival are simply not there at this time.”

Last modified: May 29, 2021

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