2020 Statement

Dear Artists, Performers, Friends, Supporters, Pirates, Craftspeople, Workshop Leaders,

We know that many of you have been waiting for an announcement on plans for the 2020 Harwich International Shanty Festival. We also know that many of you are desperately keen to hear that we will be going ahead as usual. Not only those performers who earn their living from events such as ours, but also many who are looking for light at the end of what can seem like a long dark tunnel.

We have delayed our decision for as long as we felt able, in the hope that the worldwide Coronavirus situation might change sufficiently for us and many others to make concrete plans for the Autumn onwards. But we have reached the stage where we need to make a decision. The available time left is not now sufficient to allow us to confidently plan and deliver a Festival of our usual standard. The uncertainty still surrounding whether and how hospitality venues can operate, the possibility of a “Second Spike”, the increased danger of this virus to the portion of the population who form a large part of our audience; all these things make it impossible to be certain of running a Festival this year. In addition there is the vexed question of cash. We will be unable to secure grants and sponsorship for an event which might not be able to run and we cannot be sure of a sufficient audience to cover ticketed events.

And so, sadly we have come to the following conclusion:

The 2020 Harwich International Shanty Festival, together with its planned emphasis on the 400th Anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower, will be deferred until 2021, in common with virtually all other Mayflower celebrations both in the UK and overseas. We would therefore like to invite all artists who were confirmed for 2020 to come instead in 2021 on the same terms and conditions. We can only apologise profusely that we find ourselves unable to run this year and hope that you will all understand that it really is out of our control. The dates for 2021 are 8-10th October and we really hope you can all make it. We would be very grateful if those interested in this re-run next year could let us know as soon as possible so that we know if there are gaps we may need to fill.

We had hoped that we might hold a scaled back event this year, perhaps featuring local groups only in a “Back to Roots” Festival, but have now regretfully decided that this will not be possible. It is a huge blow to us all at the end of a devastating year for the music industry in general, but in the light of the current uncertain situation worldwide we cannot risk promoting an event of any size. Our monthly newsletters will continue, as will posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and of course here on our website, keeping you all up to date on any Shanty news and looking forward hopefully to happier times in 2021.

Keep safe everyone and we hope we may see you all before too long

HISF committee