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Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals officially canceled for 2020

A scene from the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
The 2020 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

An October re-scheduling for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2020 seemed optimistic in the face of COVID-19. Now it’s official — the festival will not take place in 2020.

On Wednesday, Riverside County public health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser announced that, because of the risks of the ongoing pandemic, the two-weekend festival (along with its country music counterpart Stagecoach) will be off until next year at the earliest. Coachella, initially planned for April, with Rage Against the Machine, Frank Ocean and Travis Scott as headliners, had been scheduled to return to the Empire Polo Grounds this Oct. 9.

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“I am concerned as indications grow that COVID-19 could worsen in the fall,” Kaiser said on Wednesday. “In addition, events like Coachella and Stagecoach would fall under Governor Newsom’s Stage 4, which he has previously stated would require treatments or a vaccine to enter. Given the projected circumstances and potential, I would not be comfortable moving forward.

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“These decisions are not taken lightly with the knowledge that many people will be impacted. My first priority is the health of the community.”

Kaiser praised Goldenvoice, the promoter of the festivals, for its efforts to protect the health of concert-goers.

Representatives for Goldenvoice did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

2020 will be the first year without a Coachella since 2000, a gap year after the fest’s 1999 debut and its 2001 return.

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On Monday, Goldenvoice’s parent firm AEG announced a wave of layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts affecting all divisions of its company, which include music, sports and facilities. “It is clear now that live events with fans will not resume for many months and likely not until sometime in 2021, so we are faced with no easy options,” chief executive Dan Beckerman wrote in a company-wide memo.

The cancellation follows the release of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-step outline for re-opening the state, in which businesses in certain sectors were allowed to offer modified services. Music festivals, like conventions and live sports, are last in line to resume and will not be permitted until an effective therapeutic treatment for the novel coronavirus is widely available.

The loss of the fest, which draws 125,000 fans to each of the six days spread over two consecutive weekends, will be a major blow to the tourism and hospitality industries of the Coachella Valley.

While most artists had anticipated the possibility of the festival’s cancellation — major touring is still on hold for the U.S. music industry — it does show the scale of the challenge facing live entertainment. Coachella usually nets promoter Goldenvoice between $75 million and $100 million annually, and it is the most profitable music fest in America.


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