New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell bravely recommended yesterday that no large events take place in New Orleans in 2020, and ESSENCE fully supports that decision.
After continued monitoring of the evolving developments in the COVID-19 global pandemic and remaining in close contact and collaboration with our partners in the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana, we are confirming today that we will no longer move forward with the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture live experience—and look forward to returning to New Orleans in 2021.
In the meantime, we are excited to announce that our new ESSENCE Studios streaming platform will host the first-ever ESSENCE Festival of Culture: The Virtual Edition over July Fourth weekend as a multiday experience and benefit celebration. This Festival experience will be extended to communities around the world like never before, with unfettered access to the power, purpose and party that has made the ESSENCE Festival the largest cultural, entertainment and empowerment experience in the world. Women across the globe and their families will engage in interactive, live opportunities to be inspired, empowered, entertained and transformed as they enter a new economic, spiritual and wellness journey ahead.
In addition, the virtual Festival will be a benefit celebration in honor and support of the City of New Orleans, which has been an incredible partner over the Festival’s 26 years and continues to be especially hard hit during this crisis.
From the beginning, we have shared that the health, safety and well-being of our Festival-goers, local citizens and others who contribute to making the Festival such a unique experience were our top concerns and would be the foremost considerations in our decision-making. While we initially hoped that a reschedule from our July dates to later in the fall would be feasible, current information and projections by public health officials and agencies have made it increasingly clear that any large-scale events this year could potentially and unnecessarily put attendees and surrounding communities at risk. So what would have typically been a very difficult decision for us was not because people come first.
We will continue to do everything that we can to serve our community during this time and will refund all tickets sold for the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture. Ticket holders should visit essencefestival.com for further information.
“ESSENCE and the City of New Orleans have a partnership that thrives in good times and is made even stronger in challenging times,” said Mayor Cantrell. “We share an uncompromised commitment to the best interest of our local community and our tourist community, and the priorities right now are providing support to those who have been affected by the disproportionate impact of the pandemic here in New Orleans and ensuring a safe and healthy environment for all. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to our great city in 2021 for the return of the ESSENCE Festival of Culture and to once again helping to create such an unmatched and magical experience.”
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards shared similar sentiments.
“We greatly appreciate the ESSENCE family for working with the City of New Orleans and Louisiana as we face this ongoing public health crisis,” said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. “We have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the ESSENCE family and look forward to continuing the celebration in 2021.”
We continue to understand that in these times, accurate information and critical resources from trusted sources are vital. So ESSENCE created the ESSENCE of the Matter: COVID-19’s Impact on Black America digital platform to provide Black women and communities with the tools, information, resources, inspiration and empowerment needed to address the multitude of issues arising from this pandemic. We established ESSENCE Studios to deliver these live virtual experiences and provide the content and solutions our community needs when they need it as we continue to navigate this unprecedented time together and beyond. As part of that, we have launched the ESSENCE Benefit Series to Fight COVID-19 to raise money and provide support for businesses and organizations in the Black community. Experiences to date have included our first-ever virtual ESSENCE Wellness House and ESSENCE CARES Act Information Sessions, with the next—the ESSENCE & New Voices Entrepreneur Summit—scheduled for Friday, April 24. Visit ESSENCE.com for more information.
In addition, our editorial team is producing daily content on our dedicated page to educate our community on the coronavirus, its effect on our lives, best practices for prevention and how we can not only survive but thrive through this time.