Folk Fest Cancellation FAQ

Updated January 14, 2021

Why has The Ark canceled the Ann Arbor Folk Festival?

Based on the current direction and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Ann Arbor Folk Festival. Although the Folk Festival is The Ark’s largest annual fundraising event and cancelling means losing a vital source of our annual operating revenue, our main concern at this time is for the health and safety of our patrons, artists, crew, staff, and the broader community. Factors that went into our decision-making include:

  • One of our headlining Folk Fest artists has cancelled, and we anticipate additional artist cancellations for the festival based on current trends at The Ark and other venues, as well as events and conferences regionally and nationally.

  • Covid cases and hospitalizations continue to rise nationally and are surging in Michigan and Washtenaw County. Local public health officials caution that they expect this Omicron surge to continue for the next few weeks.

  • Local hospitals are at capacity and understaffed. Michigan Medicine has made a request that people refrain from attending large indoor events for the next few weeks in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus and its impact on the health system.

How are you handling refunds and donations?

If you bought tickets by phone through The Ark office during the pre-sale (Nov 29-Dec 3), you’ll receive an email from The Ark on January 14th outlining three options: you can donate all of your ticket purchase to The Ark, donate a portion of your ticket purchase to The Ark, or request a full refund. Any portion that you donate will be fully tax-deductible. We’ll call you the week of January 17th to find out whether you’d like a refund or to make a full or partial donation.  We’ll also get your credit card information if needed.

If you bought tickets online, by phone, or in-person through the Michigan Union Ticket Office (MUTO) beginning December 6, your purchase will automatically be refunded to the credit card you used to make your purchase. You’ll receive an email from MUTO on January 14th notifying you of your refund. You can make a tax-deductible donation to The Ark using a link in the email.

Is there an option to watch the Folk Festival by video?

Unfortunately, artists in this year’s Folk Festival did not agree to allow virtual broadcast of the festival, so we won’t be able to provide a virtual alternative.

Last year you had a Tribute video to John Prine.  Is there a Tribute video this year?

Yes! Several Michigan-based artists are participating in a tribute to Nanci Griffith. Watch this page on our website for details TBA.

Why did you schedule the Folk Festival in-person this year?
Why didn’t you cancel it sooner? 

As the pandemic continues to evolve, we’re all tasked with managing a balance between caution and living with an acceptable level of risk. At the outset of the pandemic when extreme caution was called for, The Ark was closed. As the pandemic has continued, we’ve all experienced the personal, community, and economic costs of closure and social isolation. At some point caution is mitigated by the need for our community businesses and organizations to return to operations. The Ark has a mission to fulfill and an important social and economic role in our community.  This means weighing the acceptable level of risk and implementing appropriate precautions as we work to deliver programming in various settings.

We began planning the Folk Festival in the spring and summer, when Michigan was opening back up. Even as the Delta variant emerged, incidences of Covid continued to wane and hospitalizations were minimal. Under these circumstances, presenting the Folk Festival at Hill Auditorium with Covid protocols in place was a reasonable undertaking. When Omicron appeared in December, its impact was uncertain but it was initially projected to subside by mid-January. Since that hasn’t been the case and Omicron’s community impact has gotten more severe, we reassessed and made our decision accordingly.

Why does The Ark continue to be open if the Folk Festival is canceled?

The level of risk for presenting one or two artists in a small venue for a 90-minute show is very different from presenting multiple artists in a large venue over a 4-5 hour timeframe. Although many artists are currently canceling or postponing shows, we currently remain open for those who are healthy and comfortable playing to live audiences where appropriate Covid protocols are in place. We continue to assess The Ark’s open/closed status and Covid protocols on an ongoing basis.