We have just learned that the City of Somerville will not allow large gatherings or public events through the end of 2020. Here is the City's statement:
"Today [5/15/2020], the City announced that to help control the spread of the coronavirus, all City-sponsored or permitted public events and large gatherings will be canceled through the end of the year (December 31, 2020). Virtual events and other creative and safe alternatives will be held where possible. Should conditions improve, smaller events may be reconsidered. School-sponsored activities, athletics, and Parks and Recreation Programming remain under review, and guidance will be shared at a later time."
This is, of course, disappointing, but understood. We are hopeful that some sort of decentralized and/or online festival will be possible and safe. The Organizing Committee is meeting on an ongoing basis to strategize possible scenarios for smaller, localized events throughout the City and around the world, and we will continue to keep in close touch with the Mayor and City staff to see what, if anything, will be possible to bring HONK! to Somerville in the fall of 2020 in a re-envisioned and safe way.
Here is a statement we released to our community about a week ago, prior to this announcement from the City. It might provide some basis for further thinking. We will update you, our community, as things develop.
In this period of uncertainty, we have been discussing ways to envision our 2020 Festival (originally planned for October 9-11), recognizing that it is impossible to make preparations for the HONK! we’ve known in the past. We have been looking for a plan which will not take resources from communities where they are desperately needed and which is flexible enough to implement last-minute changes with the lowest possible impact. We have come to the conclusion that this necessarily means a local festival, perhaps limited to a day or two, with no air travel or festival housing provided, which focuses on inviting bands that are in and around Somerville.
But this is not where our thinking ends. We want to propose a radically different, hyper-local, (re)conception of HONK! And we want to encourage other locales where there are HONK! bands to do the same thing, on the same day. We are calling it:
Here’s the idea. HONK! is not tied to any particular location. If anything, HONK! is everywhere – that is, everywhere there is an outrageous and unruly street band capable of producing a joyful noise in the street. In the end, HONK! is where you make it. It is an idea. It is a practice. It is a commitment to using the power of brass and percussion to encourage community, engage in participatory music-making, reclaim public spaces, oppose oppressive and exclusionary practices and, ultimately, help make the world a better place.
Whether it’s one musician on a street corner, or multiple bands in a town square, anyone or any band can participate however they see fit. The vision for how we link all these events (large and small alike) into one "HONK! United” will be developed over the coming months.
So, even though we can’t all gather in one place this year. we can make a statement at the same time. Let’s expand HONK! to locations far and wide. We invite you to host a local event in your own community on the same weekend as ours. Let’s all play in the streets of our home towns on the same day – a “glocalized” international festival of activist street bands united by the belief in music for social change. What would it be like to celebrate HONK! in Seattle, Spokane, Eugene, New York, Providence, Madison, Atlanta, New Orleans, Austin, Rio, Wollongong, Detroit, Montpelier, Montreal, Vancouver, Paris, Rome, Pittsburgh and elsewhere … all at the same time?
We would love to hear from you. Suggestions, reactions, critiques, concerns, applause — all welcome. We will do our best to incorporate your feedback into a more detailed proposal. This is not the last time you will be hearing from us.
With love and best wishes to all our street band friends and allies.
— The HONK! Organizing Committee