The Utah Shakespeare Festival announced today it will cancel its 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Festival announced a revised season on April 13, there are simply too many obstacles to overcome. The safety and health of the Festival’s staff, artists, audiences and community guided this difficult but necessary decision.

“This is a direct result of the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on performing arts,” said Frank Mack, executive producer. “When we announced our revised season, we indicated that we would cancel our season if we had to, and sadly it has come to that.” The season had been planned for July 9 through Sept. 5 featuring five shows playing in rotating repertory and a free greenshow.

Among the myriad challenges facing the season, Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), the union of professional actors and stage managers, will not be extending contracts to professional theatres until their new safety protocols are written and implemented, a decision the Festival fully supports. The Festival planned to start rehearsals June 15 and requested information from AEA on the availability of contracts last week. On May 8 the Festival received this statement from the director of the Western Region of AEA: “At this time in the COVID-19 pandemic, the landscape is continuing to change in scientific knowledge regarding the contagion and avoidance of this disease. And as you are aware, we have very recently contracted Dr. David Michaels to assist our union—and our industry—in the establishment of appropriate safety protocols for actors, stage managers, and others in live theatre.”