Coachella 2020 cancelled by order of public health officials

Festival organisers are considering different approaches for 2021 as parent company AEG cuts staff

Coachella, which was originally postponed from its usual April dates to October due to the coronavirus pandemic, has been cancelled entirely for 2020 following orders from local public health officials.

Riverside County’s public health officer, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, signed an order on Wednesday (June 10) cancelling Coachella and its sister festival, Stagecoach, amid fears of a possible surge in COVID-19 cases.

“Events like Coachella and Stagecoach would fall under [California] Governor [Gavin] Newsom’s Stage 4, which he has previously stated would require treatments or a vaccine to enter. Given the projected circumstances and potential, I would not be comfortable moving forward,” Kaiser said.

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“These decisions are not taken lightly with the knowledge that many people will be impacted. My first priority is the health of the community.”

The iconic Indio, California festival announced in March it would be pushed back from its usual April dates to October. But as Billboard first reported on June 9, the certainty of the 2020 event was unclear as its parent company AEG laid off and furloughed staff.

Per Billboard, AEG (the Anschutz Entertainment Group) has begun laying off 15 per cent of its staff, furloughing 100 employees and implementing pay cuts of up to 50 per cent. In an email to staff, seen by Billboard, CEO Dan Beckerman said the move will affect staff across the world.

“It is an agonising decision, but sadly, a necessary one,” Beckerman said. “The world is slowly re-opening, and our industry will re-open later and more slowly than most.”

This year’s Coachella lineup was to be headlined by Rage Against The Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean.

Event organisers Goldenvoice are reportedly deciding between running a smaller Coachella event in 2021 in the hopes restrictions have eased, and throwing a full festival in October next year. Two-fifths of ticketholders have requested refunds to this year’s festival.

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“It is clear now that live events with fans will not resume for many months and likely not until sometime in 2021,” Beckerman said.

On June 9, Lollapalooza also announced it would not proceed in 2020, instead opting for a livestream from July 30 to August 2 that will feature live performances and archival footage. No lineup was ever announced for the 2020 festival.

Coachella premiered a YouTube Originals documentary on the festival’s 20-year history on April 10 – the day the 2020 festival was due to begin. “While it may do little to soothe the pain of those who were meant to be there this month, for the rest of us, it serves as a timely portrait of the pure magic of music festivals,” NME wrote in its five-star review of the documentary.

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