March 31, 2020
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and staff of Jacob’s Pillow, I send my warmest wishes to all of you and hope that you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy.
By now, I’m sure you have received many cancellation announcements from arts organizations you treasure. It is very hard to tell you that, for the first time in our 88-year history, our Board and Executive Leadership have made the difficult decision to cancel the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival this summer. For the safety of our staff, artists, audiences, and the larger Berkshire community, this is our only responsible course of action.
This is extremely difficult news to deliver to the hundreds of individuals that make the festival possible each year. COVID-19 has not only endangered the health and lives of millions around the world, but it has also devastated our field. The arts and entertainment industries have proven to be one of the most vulnerable sectors. Artists and arts workers are losing income, health care, and in many cases, are not eligible for unemployment benefits. We face a harsh and disheartening reality.
But we face it together. As stewards of the only National Landmark dedicated to dance, we at Jacob’s Pillow reaffirm our faith in humanity’s resilience and in dance as a force that mobilizes people toward a greater good. Dance is moving, it is about agility and strength, and it’s about our need to partner to bring ideas to life. Dance is an expression of the irrepressible urge to create something out of nothing and give meaning to our precious time on Earth.
Jacob’s Pillow remains unwavering in the commitment to our mission: To support dance creation, presentation, education, and preservation; and to engage and deepen public appreciation and support for dance.
In the coming months, we will do all we can to take care of our staff, community, artists, and audiences. With regards to our staff, many of you know that over the past four years, Jacob’s Pillow has grown into a year-round center. With the necessary cancellation of Spring programming and the summer Festival, which comprises 50% of our income, we must greatly reduce our workforce and institute deep pay cuts for those who remain. This has been an excruciating decision, as Team Pillow is a collective of like-minded people with shared values that does so much to advance our mission.
In recognition of the profound impact of this global crisis, we are working with Festival 2020 artists on how we can support their work now and in the future; we plan to resume our community engagement programs around Berkshire County as soon as it’s safe to bring people together; Program Directors at The School are working on creative ways to deliver their programs online to nurture the artistic development of the next generation of dancers; and ticket buyers will be eligible to receive a full refund on their tickets and season packages, obtain a credit for next year, or if they choose, convert all or part of their purchase to a donation. Details are available now on our website.
Meanwhile, we will use our digital platform to offer ways for our Pillow community around the world to connect with what is quintessential about the Pillow experience. Every week, we will bring you content drawn from our extensive dance Archives. We will find ways for you to connect digitally with Festival 2020 artists, and we will host a new series of online PillowTalks curated by our Director of Preservation, Norton Owen.
We will also be in close dialogue with artists and our local community to inform our next steps. When the time is right, we’ll look to create strategies that support our mutual recoveries and well being.
At times like these, we can find comfort in the courage and moral imagination of our ancestors and predecessors. In the midst of World War II, with its many shortages and hardships, Pillow founder Ted Shawn wrote, “Jacob’s Pillow has great and necessary work to do…and we must carry on no matter what the difficulties.” We continue with that conviction today more than ever.
We want to thank you for your enduring dedication to our beloved Jacob’s Pillow. I particularly want to thank our Members, whose steadfast support enables us to dream big and achieve so many important milestones. Your support is needed and appreciated. If you are interested in learning how you can support dance artists and the Pillow during this time, I urge you to refer to a list of relief funds (below) and to consider making a tax-deductible donation to our organization.
If our collective efforts to “flatten the curve” of infection work, and people are able to congregate again in August, we will make every effort to try to bring people together in keeping with the public safety guidelines in effect at that time.
Meanwhile, please stay well. And keep in touch—reach out to us in the weeks ahead. We look forward to staying connected to you virtually and welcoming you back to the Pillow when it’s safe, to celebrate this art form and what it represents: the indomitable resiliency of the human spirit. Again, in the words of Ted Shawn, “Dance We Must.”
Executive & Artistic Director
Will artists be programmed next season? What kinds of commitments are you making to artists amidst cancellations?
We are closely working with Festival 2020 artists on how we can support their work now and in the future. We can not guarantee that artists programmed in Festival 2020 will be part of next year’s Festival.
Will the Pillow offer any replacement programming?
We plan to resume our community engagement programs around Berkshire County as soon as it’s safe to bring people together. Program Directors at The School are working on creative ways to deliver online programs that nurture the artistic development of the next generation of dancers.
In addition, Jacob’s Pillow will use its digital platform to offer ways for our Pillow community around the world to connect with what is quintessential about the Pillow experience. Every week, we will curate content drawn from our extensive dance Archives; we will find ways to connect audiences with Festival 2020 artists digitally, and we will share online PillowTalks curated by Director of Preservation Norton Owen.
If our collective efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 are effective, and people are able to congregate again in August, we will make every effort to try to bring audiences together in keeping with the public safety guidelines in effect at that time.
Has the Pillow ever cancelled a festival in its 88-year history?
No, this cancellation is unprecedented.
Can I get a refund on my tickets?
All ticket buyers can choose to either obtain a credit for next year, support the Pillow and artists during this difficult time by transferring all or some of their tickets to a tax-deductible donation, or receiving a refund on tickets and season packages.
Please fill out this form before May 1 so we can proceed with your choice.
When the form is received, you will receive a confirmation email. Please allow 1-2 business weeks for the transaction to be reflected on your account. Contact [email protected] for additional questions and concerns.
What can I do to support the future of Jacob’s Pillow right now?
Thank you for asking! The best way to help Jacob’s Pillow get through this unprecedented time, help our artists and staff, and secure our future is to donate your tickets or make a special contribution (and either will provide a tax deduction). Your support is always appreciated, and so urgent right now. The Pillow has cut staff, salaries, hours, and expenses and, with your help, we will continue our essential role in dance when this crisis is over.
Ticket Refund Details
We want to thank you for your enduring dedication to our beloved Jacob’s Pillow. Your unwavering support enables us to dream big and achieve so many important milestones.
All ticket buyers will be eligible to receive a full refund on their tickets and season packages, obtain a credit for next year, or if they choose, convert all or part of their purchase to a donation. Please fill out this form directly. If we do not receive a response from you, your order will be automatically refunded on May 1, 2020.
After the form is received, you will receive a confirmation email. Please allow 3-5 business days for the transaction to reflect on your account. Contact [email protected] for additional questions.
Resources for Artists and Artist Communities
There are new and helpful resources surfacing every day for artists and arts communities during this uncertain time. Please share these resources widely.
NEA: The NEA has created a helpful resource page that shares links to arts service organizations that are providing frequently updated news and resources for artists and arts organizations.
Mass Cultural Council – COVID-19 Resources: An extensive list of cultural and financial resources including webinars and other news for artists and freelancers, project grants and funding opportunities, and more. Curated by Mass Cultural Council, a Massachusetts state agency that promotes excellence, inclusion, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and sciences.
Grantspace: In the face of increased hardships, Grantspace has started a list to point artists, nonprofits, and other individuals and small businesses toward emergency financial resources. Although this list is not comprehensive, new funds are being added every day.
Dance/USA: Dance/USA is working with the Performing Arts Alliance and ArtsReady to provide a number of resources regarding the impact of COVID-19 on our field.
Dance/NYC: Dance/NYC has compiled resources for how artists and organizations can plan, as well as details on how the Federal Government, New York State, and the City of New York are responding to current events.
COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund is helping entertainment professionals meet coronavirus-related expenses and other challenges brought about by the evolving pandemic.
Backstage: COVID-19 Resources for Actors, Creators, and Performing Artists: An evolving hub for performers and creators, including resources for finances and unemployment, health, national and state programs, industry news, training and online classes, and remote auditions.
Foundation for Contemporary Arts – COVID-19 Relief Fund: For as long as the FCA’s Board of Directors determines it is necessary and prudent to do so, the Foundation will disburse $1,000 grants to artists who have had performances or exhibitions canceled or postponed because of the COVID-19 virus.
Boston Artist Relief Fund: The Boston Artist Relief Fund will award grants of $500 and $1,000 to individual artists who live in Boston whose creative practices and incomes are being adversely impacted by Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Disabled Creator & Activist Pandemic Relief: To support disabled activists and creators that have lost honorariums and sales due to conference and event cancellations, volunteers are collecting information to organize a relief fund.
Dance Video Tips from Nel Shelby Productions: Artist adjusting to cancelled or postponed performances can still stay engaged with their audiences, even without a theater to gather in. Nel Shelby and her team offer some tips and suggestions.
Capacity Interactive: CI is having ongoing conversations about how arts organizations can best be responding to COVID-19, and what digital marketing actions they recommend taking.
NEFA: As the COVID-19 public health crisis intensifies, the New England Foundation for the Arts is monitoring developments and has assembled resources to share with constituents.
Americans for the Arts – COVID-19 Resource & Response Center: A comprehensive list of resources and news items, updated daily.
Dancing Alone Together: List of online classes, creative prompts, community resources, and online performance footage.
Cancelled Events (March 14 to April 25)
- March 14-15 — DEL Essentials workshop
- March 14 — Contemporary Master Class in New York City
- March 15 — Street & Club Dances Master Class in New York City
- March 16 — Musical Theatre Dance Master Class in New York City
- March 28 — Deep Blue Sea (co-presented with MASS MoCA)
- March 28 — Pillow Party – Hustle
- March 28 — Pillow Lab showing: Brian Brooks
- March 29 — Bolshoi Ballet in HD: Romeo and Juliet (co-presented with Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center)
- April 4 — Pillow Party: Latin Dance
- April 8-11 — Artestudio (Salerno, Italy): The Horton Experience with Milton Myers
- April 11 — DEL Mini workshop
- April 11 — Pillow Lab showing: RUBBERBAND
- April 19 — Bolshoi Ballet in HD: Jewels (co-presented with Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center)
- April 25 — New England Dance on Tour