With great regret, the Holland Festival has been forced to cancel its 73rd edition, which was due to take place from 4 to 28 June 2020. The domestic and foreign restrictions and uncertainties related to the corona pandemic have made it impossible for the international performing arts festival to take place. 

The continuing restrictive measures that the government of The Netherlands had to announce on the 21st of April sealed the fate of the 73rd edition of the festival. For the Holland Festival it is no longer possible to stage the festival as announced. The Holland Festival is an international performing arts festival with artists from more than twenty countries and it presents their work in an artistic context. The uncertainty about the various global measures with travel restrictions and quarantines, the impossibility of rehearsal or production, the uncertainties as to whether Dutch theatres and concert halls can be used, the withdrawal of international presentation partners, and companies’ cancellation of their performances and tours mean that the complex operation can no longer be executed in June 2020. Above all, the safety of the public and artists is paramount. The festival is unwilling to take any safety risks. 

Art matters. Now that we must make do without, we and our audience realise all the more how important it is to be able to watch and listen to performances and concerts as a collective experience. That is why the festival organisers, together with a large part of the artists who were supposed to perform at the festival and various partners, are exploring alternative ways of staging part of the programme in June. Live streaming, films, radio recordings, vlogs, blogs, and podcasts will be used to show what the makers have been engaged in. The festival will be online, with the title Holland Festival 2.0-2.0. The overarching theme for this edition will also be: In pursuit of the we, which is more relevant than ever in this time of social distancing. 

Emily Ansenk, the festival's director: ‘The festival, which is artist-driven and always focuses on the artists, realises that many of them have worked for months and years on wonderful productions that will not be staged or will only be staged later. The Holland Festival emphatically expresses its support for the makers, artists and companies involved. Amongst other things, we will pay co-production contributions that have already been agreed to.’ 

Martijn Sanders, chairman of the Supervisory Board: ‘Cancelling the festival for the first time in its seventy-three-year history has had a heavy impact on the festival team. We are convinced that contemporary art that reflects on social themes is more important than ever today. We are pleased that the artists and the festival team are committed to stage this art in an online edition.’ 

Bill T. Jones, associate artist 2020, on the cancellation of the festival:
“Recently, I had a revelation during a COVID conversation. A fellow artist said to me: ‘This disruption and the disappointment that many artists are facing now is business as usual for the creative class.’ She went on to say that we are trained for the ‘accident’, the ‘unforeseen’, the ‘disruptive’...! Artists are temperamentally suited to improvise, reinvent and find solutions! The circumstance of the COVID crisis has placed this belief in jeopardy. Can I/we truly pick up the pieces, move forward refashioning circumstances as we go? An honest answer is, ‘I don’t know...’. However that region of my mind and heart where the will resides says, ‘We must go on. We must recreate. We must keep faith.’ I continue to enjoy and learn a great deal from my partners at the Holland Festival. Their professionalism, bravery and deep humanity fuel my resolve and I am grateful for this. To the Future.” 

The Holland Festival would like to expressly thank its sponsors. The generous good will and support of a number of important partners, namely the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the municipality of Amsterdam, Fonds 21, Ammodo, many private foundations and donors, and our media partners NTR, VPRO and De Groene Amsterdammer have enabled us to put together an alternative festival. 

Members of the public who have already bought tickets will be actively approached by the festival organisers in the near future. They will be given the opportunity to convert their tickets into vouchers for 2021, a donation to the festival, or get a refund.