Olympia Downtown Alliance Cancels Annual Music in the Park Series

By Jonah Barrett

The 41st season of Olympia’s Music in the Park series has been cancelled this year due to public health concerns concerning COVID-19. The series has been an Olympia tradition, occurring at both Sylvester Park and the Port of Olympia every year through July and August.

With the deluge of postponed or cancelled events in 2020, this may not come as a surprise, but it’s still sad. “Everything is fluid in today’s pandemic impacted world,” said Olympia Downtown Alliance (ODA) executive director Todd Cutts. “There is no certainty with anything, Music in the Park included.”

The Alliance’s Board of Directors made the decision after considering Washington’s re-opening phases, with only Phase IV allowing gatherings of more than fifty people. With even the most aggressive timeline the earliest date Music in the Park could happen would have been July 13.

Governor Jay Inslee’s health indicators, however, point to a slower recovery. With a high possibility that the ODA would not be able to hold the series at all, coupled with concerns about the health of Olympia, the board came to the decision to cancel the Summer-wide event.

It’s not all bad news, though. As an alternative to Music in the Park, the ODA has partnered with the City of Olympia’s Artists on Board project and Octapas Café to present a new digital series: Promising Notes. The series will feature musicians recording home performances during the pandemic. The ODA gave permission to OLY ARTS to feature first video here, featuring Olympia artist Eleanor Murray.

The ODA and Olympia Artspace Alliance have also partnered to find artists to paint murals on boarded up storefronts during the pandemic. Both of these projects are funded by the City to compensate artists for their work.

2020’s Music in the Park lineup would have involved Jazz Senators, WRNG HAUS, Ranger & the Rearrangers, Linos Wengara Magaya & Zimbaremabwe Mbira Vibes, The Sway, Straw Hat Revival, Ian McFerron, and E.Pruitt.

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