2021 Ann Arbor Art Fair canceled due to pandemic
ANN ARBOR – The 2021 Ann Arbor Art Fair was canceled for the second year in a row due to concerns about the safety of COVID-19 at the event.
The event’s directors made the announcement Wednesday afternoon after months of back and forth, while Michigan led the nation in a recent surge in COVID cases.
While the directors of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original, State Street Fair, and Summer Art Fair worked to find a way to safely host the event under state COVID restrictions, they realized it couldn’t.
“At an event this size, we can’t control capacity and density to the extent that these jobs require,” said Karen Delhey, executive director of Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair and The Guild. “It’s just too big.”
The Ann Arbor Art Fair is the country’s largest judged art fair and draws nearly half a million visitors downtown for four days in July. Although organizers know it is possible that Governor Gretchen Whitmer will lift restrictions on outdoor events at the time of the fair, they said the risk was too great.
“We were hoping the restrictions might change, but we run out of time now,” Ann Arbor Street Art Fair director The Original Mo Riley said in a press release. “We all think it is likely that capacity limits will be lifted by July, but there are no guarantees. It would be unfair to ask artists to take this risk. “
The nonprofits that run the fair have cut their revenue streams due to event cancellations last year, Delhey said. The South University Area Association, which formerly ran the South University Fair, disbanded during the pandemic due to a lack of funding.
“It’s hard for all of us,” said Delhey. “Arts and cultural organizations have not received much of the support other organizations have received.”
Meanwhile, Delhey encouraged local residents and visitors to support artists and businesses in downtown Ann Arbor who will be hardest hit by the event’s cancellation.
“Go out there and show them some love this summer so they can survive, too,” she said.
Organizers said they are looking forward to the event in the third week of July 2022.
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