Bumbershoot to reassess future of festival following 2021 cancellation

Apr 23, 2021, 1:51 PM


Bumbershoot in 2017. (MyNorthwest photo)

(MyNorthwest photo)

Seattle’s Bumbershoot Arts & Music Festival announced Friday that it will not be taking place for the second year in a row, and will be forming an exploratory committee to determine the future of the Labor Day event.

The festival cited the pandemic as the primary reason behind its second cancellation in as many years. That said, One Reel, the company responsible for managing the festival for over two decades, will also stepping back permanently, instead assuming a smaller role on the committee “to inform and advise the Seattle Center Director about Bumbershoot’s future.”

“Our history with Seattle Center spans as far back at Bumbershoot’s origin, so One Reel’s new role makes perfect sense,” One Reel Executive Director Marty Griswold said in a written release. “As Seattle Center ushers a new direction for the festival, One Reel will provide the historical context and a critical eye to ensure a fair and public process for determining the future of Bumbershoot.

Canceled and alternate local events in spring, summer 2021

Over the past few years, the festival has dealt with a myriad of obstacles, including frequent financial troubles, rising ticket prices, weather cancellations, frustrations over a short-lived experiment that briefly saw KeyArena hosting the mainstage, and an incident in 2019 where a collapsed barricade sent four people to the hospital.

Despite that, the city — which owns the trademark for the Bumbershoot brand — expressed hope that the event will return in 2022. As for what form it will take, though, that remains unclear.

While the committee works to map out those those plans, fans will be given the chance to provide input into the future of Bumbershoot, “as it weighs benefits to the festival and feasibility of new producing partners and year-round opportunities to create a sustainable model for the festival and brand.”

This comes on the heels of Seafair also announcing its second cancellation of large-scale, live events in as many years, citing concerns over limitations imposed by the ongoing pandemic.

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