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Up Here to go ahead, but organizers working to make it safe during COVID-19 pandemic

An annual art and music festival will go ahead this year in Sudbury but an organizer says it won’t be the festival originally planned.

Like other festivals and events, organizers with Up Here have announced changes will be made for the upcoming festival.

It usually features a series of music events at a number of venues in Sudbury as well as the creation of murals and installation art projects throughout the city.

Organizer and co-founder Jen McKerral says they did consider cancelling the festival this year. But she points out that artists from the beginning of the pandemic have banded together to start offering online productions and shows.

“We realized we’re part of that infrastructure,” she said. “We need to be there to support artists and do art the same way they’ve been supporting us.”

Now, McKerral says the team of volunteers who organize the festival each year are figuring out how to move forward.

“This is an opportunity to stay local,” she said. “We can really work with our local artists as no one is travelling.”

McKerral says they want to continue to include art  and art installations as part of the festival.

“Sometimes artists can accomplish them alone,” she said. “We’re still thinking this through to make sure that we’re not putting anyone in danger, that’s definitely a priority.”

Jen McKerral is the co-founder of Up Here. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

She adds no contracts were previously signed with artists or musicians, which allows them to be more flexible in planning. 

McKerral points out the festival has always tried to think outside the box and do things differently.

“It’s decidedly what we call a laboratory festival,” she said.

“It’s a platform for artists to try new things. We really encourage new collaborations and new projects and just exploring new themes and styles.”

She adds organizers are always up for making the festival different each year.

“This is an extreme version,” she said. “But I think we’re having some fun with it.”

The folks at Up Here aren’t willing to give up on Sudbury’s summer festival just yet. Jen McKerral is one of the co-founders of Up Here. She joined us to talk about what this year’s festival could look like. 6:36

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