With summer winding to an anticlimactic end amid COVID-19 restrictions, outdoor festivals aren’t immune to the pandemic’s impact, organizers said, noting high-profile changes and cancelations for Kansas City’s annual fall events lineup.
Among the 2020 festivals going silent: the original PorchFestKC.
“I dragged my feet saying it out loud just because I hated that it wasn’t going to happen,” said Kathryn Golden, founder of the day-long, rolling music event that organizes more than 150 performers for front-porch concerts across three Kansas City neighborhoods.
Click here to check out scenes from PorchFestKC 2019.
Although the festival lends itself to some social distancing options, she said, safety factors outweighed the benefits of attempting to squeeze an in-person gathering of any kind into dense residential neighborhoods.
“We had to take into consideration that it is a wide range of musicians and audience members — from children to older people. Within that there are groups that are in the high-risk category for COVID-19,” said Golden, who also serves as program manager at the Enterprise Center in Johnson County. “Even though each band is separated porch to porch, you are still bringing groups of people together from different homes and the live music draws big crowds in the streets that would not guarantee safety.”
“The bands were disappointed that it isn’t going to happen, but knew it absolutely made sense,” she added.
A 2021 event is still planned, Golden said, noting the break will give the one-woman-show organizing the festival an opportunity to put feelers out early for sponsorships and help to make PorchFestKC sustainable for years to come.
Click here to learn more about PorchfestKC.
Let’s spray together
Jason Harrington hopes creating a “bubble” in the Crossroads Arts District, along with other modifications to the SpraySeeMO Mural Festival, will be enough to ensure a safe new coat of paint for the fourth annual interactive graffiti art showcase.
The 2020 event is set for Sept. 23-27 in the Crossroads with 27 artists — 10 of them local, including Harrington, also known as “Rif Raf Giraffe” — slated to express themselves through large-scale mural projects painted in a limited amount of time on approved partner locations.
Click here to read about SpraySeeMO 2019, which featured more than 30 artists across nearly 40 locations.
“This year our budget is definitely smaller, so we had to scale back and are just bringing back artists that have painted before,” said Harrington, noting previous SpraySeeMo festivals incorporated live music and gatherings late into the night.
“We are working with our main sponsor [American Shaman] to figure out the safest way to execute some events, but will not be hosting any of the usual crowd-packed bar type events,” he said. “We are keeping the artists in a bubble, making sure that everyone gets tested and isolates together.”
The rule will apply to the festival creator as well, he said.
“My wife and I will be keeping ourselves, the other artists, and all the volunteers in an isolated bubble leading up to the festival and for a good amount of time after it just to ensure safety,” Harrington said.
Click here to learn more about Jason Harrington and his alter ego, Rif Raf Giraffe.
As in past years, the public will still be allowed to watch in real-time as artists bring the murals to life, he said, but precautions will be taken to keep them at a safe distance.
“We are going to try to have 20-foot caution tapes around artist walls and stuff like that to make sure that people who are walking by keep their distance,” Harrington said. “Once we nail down the events, we are going to make masks mandatory and have testing available there too.”
“There are still many moving parts and we are trying not to guarantee solid specifics on events — but what we do know is that we will be having the festival and artists will be painting walls,” Harrington said. “The main goal is just figuring out how we can do it safely, and how can we give people something to look forward to? It has been such a downer year and we just hope that art can help people right now.”
Original plans up in smoke
One of Kansas City’s most prominent tech events is joining the list of on-hiatus meetups that typically feed startup ecosystem and tech industry members’ hunger for networking.
“While many of the sponsors were interested in hosting some sort of event this year, we decided to prioritize safety for the tech community and their families,” said Greg Kratofil, attorney and shareholder at Polsinelli, a chief organizer of the ARtechBBQ, an annual, party-atmosphere feature at the American Royal. “We are looking forward to returning with a ‘blow out’ celebration in 2021.”
The American Royal barbecue competition, originally set for Sept. 17-20 at the Kansas Speedway, also has been canceled for 2020.
Click here to check out a recent report by the KC Tech Council, another organizer of the ARtechBBQ, exploring when in-person tech community events are likely to resume in Kansas City.
The KC Tech Council rescheduled its second annual No Coast celebration from May to September because of the pandemic, but ultimately decided to nix the event until 2021, said Ryan Weber, president of the tech advocacy group.
The event honors leaders in Kansas City’s tech community, as well as highlighting innovation in the industry.
In the absence of an in-person No Coast event, the KC Tech Council this week launched a new No Coast COVID-19 Community Response category to celebrate the community’s resiliency.
Click here to nominate an individual or company for the recognition. Nominations close Aug. 26.
Select nominees will be featured in a coming No Coast awards video.
Many startup events — like the T-Mobile and DFA CoLAB accelerators’ demo day — have shifted to virtual formats with the trend expected to continue into the fall. The relaunched Techstars Kansas City demo day is set for a virtual showcase next week and Global Entrepreneurship Week Kansas City is expected to take aspiring entrepreneurs on a remote journey.
Click here to read more about GEW KC’s planned format change for 2020.
The most high-profile, in-person tech community event remaining on the calendar for 2020 is the annual Pure Pitch Rally, set for Oct. 12 in the Neptune Ballroom at the new downtown Loews hotel.
Pure Pitch Rally — offering more than $1 million in non-dilutive spot-cash funding and resource packages — is expected to showcase a curated group of tech startups pitching to a pre-selected panel of executives called “land sharks” who judge then each directly fund and donate $1,000 to the start-up pitcher of his or her choice.
Click here to learn more about the coming showcase.
Social distancing, face masks and all appropriate measures are in place at the Loews hotel to ensure a safe event, said Karen Fenaroli, founder of the Pure Pitch Rally.
Applications to pitch have been extended to Aug. 28. Click here to apply.