ESSENCE Festival 2020 is canceled over coronavirus pandemic

Organizers of the annual event heeded the recommendations of New Orleans mayor to move all large festivals or gatherings to 2021

y 2 NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JULY 06: Mary J. Blige performs onstage during the 2019 ESSENCE Festival Presented By Coca-Cola at Louisiana Superdome on July 06, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

The status of the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture has officially changed from postponed to being canceled. Organizers of the annual event heeded to the recommendations of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell to move all large festivals or gatherings in The Big Easy to 2021.

With gatherings of over 10 people prohibited in most states, public and private events are being canceled, postponed or suspended. Recently, the Essence Fest team decided to move their event to later in the year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE: ESSENCE Fest 2020 postponed due to coronavirus pandemic

The organization had initially announced a date-change and now, as COVID-19 continues to remain a serious threat to public health and safety, the event cannot go as planned.

“We share an uncompromised commitment to the best interest of our local community and our tourist community, and the priorities right now are providing support to those who have been affected by the disproportionate impact of the pandemic here in New Orleans and ensuring a safe and healthy environment for all,” Mayor Cantrell in an official statement.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell speaks on stage at 2019 ESSENCE Festival Presented By Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 07, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

“We look forward to welcoming everyone back to our great city in 2021 for the return of the ESSENCE Festival of Culture and to once again helping to create such an unmatched and magical experience.”

READ MORE: ESSENCE CEO Michelle Ebanks unexpectedly steps down

“From the beginning, we have shared that the health, safety and well-being of our Festival-goers, local citizens and others who contribute to making the Festival such a unique experience were our top concerns and would be the foremost considerations in our decision-making,”  Essence detailed in an official statement.

“While we initially hoped that a reschedule from our July 2020 dates to later in the fall would be feasible, current information and projections by public health officials and agencies have made it increasingly clear that any large-scale events this year could potentially and unnecessarily put attendees and surrounding communities at risk.”

A view of the audience during the 2019 ESSENCE Festival Presented By Coca-Cola at Louisiana Superdome on July 07, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

Refunds for ticket purchasers hoping to attend the 2020 music and culture festival can attend the 2021 event or decide on a full refund. Although the physical festival is now canceled, ESSENCE plans to host a virtual event in place of the New Orleans trip.

The cancelation announcement also introduces ESSENCE Festival of Culture: The Virtual Edition scheduled to take place on July 4 holiday weekend. Through their own brand new streaming platform, ESSENCE hopes the digital event will bring together women globally to engage interactive and live opportunities providing inspiration, empowerment and entertainment.

ESSENCE also created the ESSENCE of the Matter: COVID-19’s Impact on Black America, a digital platform providing tools, information and resources to Black women dealing with the multiple issues arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

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