P.O. Box 2737

Little Rock, AR 7220

 T: (501) 350-2378 E: info@arfea.org

www.arfea.org

_____________________________________________________________________________

Dear respected industry leaders and government officials,

This is an open letter designated by the Arkansas Festivals & Events Association to leaders with an open ear and vested interest in the success and recovery of the festival, event, and entertainment industry of Arkansas.

As a core part of what contributes to quality of life in Arkansas communities, festivals, events, arts and entertainment are vital to the economic success of our towns and cities. As you all know, they were also some of the first to be impacted and asked to cease in response to helping curb the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, due to the nature of our industry and its likelihood to incur mass gatherings and groups, we will have a definite chance of being an industry impacted for a much longer time period than some others might experience.

We do not say all of this to imply that we are of more importance than any other industry that is being affected and impacted by the current measures being taken. We are, in fact, in agreeance that MANY industries will incur a substantial loss as a result of COVID-19 and are collectively grieving with them. We do, however, write this letter to bring notice to an industry who contributes substantially to the economy of Arkansas by attracting out of state and in state tourism that, without a fight to keep in the loop, may remain unmentioned in relief and recovery efforts by our state and federal entities due to being deemed as not “essential”. Many non-profit organizations that serve our communities derive a large amount of their income from festivals and events that they organize and depend on them to carry them through from year to year. In addition to non-profits you can add Chambers of Commerce, Advertising & Promotion Commissions, Convention & Visitors Bureaus, independent event organizers, Main Street Organizations, and many, many, festival and event businesses that contribute to the success of events that whole heartedly depend on revenue from festivals and events to survive. We have watched as an entire season of revenue and livelihood has been eliminated for so many that we’ve listed above.

While it is still early to get a full grasp of the monetary loss that the industry will occur, the AFEA is currently collecting and compiling information from its members and the rest of the industry to get a snap shot of the damage and loss of revenue that has occurred. Our ask is that as this information becomes available and we are able to present an accurate picture of the damage to our industry, that you all consider them in your efforts to construct and implement relief and assistance to various sectors of Arkansas’s economic structure.

Our mission is to ensure that the vibrant and beloved festival and event industry in our state suffer the least amount of damage as possible and is given a chance for the ability to recover and rebuild its events and businesses moving forward. Without all of your help and representation in the decision making and implementation processes in the days ahead our fear is that Arkansas will lose many of the dear community events and festivals that our state has come to love and boast about.  These events and the businesses that help them succeed are what showcase Arkansas food, culture, arts, history, and heritage to the rest of the world and it is imperative that as many of them continue as possible. Thank you so much for your time, your leadership, and consideration.

Sincerely,

Jenna Friday

Executive Director

jenna@arfea.org

Condensed and growing list of affected festivals & events to date:

Barkus on Main- Little Rock

World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade- Hot Springs

Camden Daffodil Festival- Camden

Toad Suck Daze- Conway

Magnolia Blossom Festival- Magnolia

All Murphy Arts District Events through May- El Dorado

Shamrockin’ on the Square- El Dorado

First Friday Monthly Markets- Camden

Bentonville Film Festival- Bentonville

SHRED Eureka- Eureka Springs

Arkansas Pie Festival- Cherokee Village

Regional Dance America Southwest Festival- Fort Smith

Brews & Bites- Little Rock

Bloomin’ Blues & BBQ- Fairfield Bay

Boati Gras- Fairfield Bay

ACANSA Spring Break Art Camps- Central Arkansas

Alpacapalooza- Heifer Village, Little Rock

Arkansas Italian Food & Culture Festival- Little Rock

Arkansas Roots Music Festival

Downtown Little Rock Partnership Annual Fundraising Meeting

Jewish Food Festival- Little Rock

Arkansas Scottish Festival

Cabot JA Strawberry Festival

Fordyce on the Cotton Belt Festival- Fordyce

Fourche River Days- Perryville

Armadillo Festival- Hamburg

Hot Springs Area Cultural Alliance Arts & The Park

If you have an even that has been cancelled or postponed that is not on this list, please email to info@arfea.org to be included.

You can also find a larger list at https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2020/mar/12/coronavirus-cancellations/