The nearly all-female lineup for Rock the Garden 2020 was a bit of a surprise, but the undoing of the festival is not: Organizers have canceled the June 20 music bash outside Walker Art Center.
News of RTG's cancellation was quickly followed by an announcement from the Twin Cities Pride festival that it, too, will not go on as planned in June.
Scheduled one weekend later around neighboring Loring Park, the festival and its popular parade are listed as postponed for now as organizers are waiting to determine the "safest environment for all to celebrate Twin Cities Pride."
The lineup for this year’s RTG — a fundraiser event for the Walker and its fellow nonprofit co-partner 89.3 the Current/Minnesota Public Radio — was only just announced March 10, a few days before concert tours and music venues started shutting down due to coronavirus fears. Tegan & Sara, Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard, Poliça, Jay Som and Gully Boys were among the scheduled performers.
“We are deeply disappointed to have to cancel this year’s Rock the Garden, due to our concerns for the safety and health of audiences and artists alike,” Philip Bither, senior curator for performing arts at the Walker, said in a statement issued Friday morning.
Rock the Garden is the second big summer music fest to be called off in Minnesota, following Twin Cities Summer Jam’s cancellation. As we reported earlier this week, organizers of other festivals including the Basilica Block Party are for now still holding out hope to go on as planned.
This will be the first time since 2007 that Twin Cities concertgoers will not be treated to a Rock the Garden, an event that dates back to 1998. Both the Walker and the neighboring Minneapolis Sculpture Garden have a busy schedule of other events lined up during the warm months, which would make rescheduling to a later date nearly impossible. Ticketholders will receive a full refund through eTix.
The Current’s managing director David Safar added in the announcement, “It’s disappointing to miss the opportunity to see the artists on this year’s lineup and gather with our fellow music fans. But we’re in this together. Let’s continue to support the music community and each other however we can.”
Twin Cities Pride organizers emphasized in their announcement that while their festival is one event, "Pride is a movement." Board chair Darcie Baumann said in a statement that “these decisions have been incredibly difficult for us to make.”
“Our staff and volunteers are still spending countless hours exploring every possible option for us to be able to celebrate Pride safely,” Baumann said. “Our hearts go out to everyone affected by COVID-19. We are very thankful for community support during this challenging time.”