O+ Kingston, despite pandemic, plans for October festival

Despite the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, organizers of the O+ Festival in Kingston are planning to stage their annual gathering as a free event Oct. 8-10.

According to a Wednesday afternoon announcement, the festival that compensates musicians and artists with health and well care “will emphasize outdoor venues and public art.” Organizers will also “follow the updated public health guidance in place at that time around masking, social distance and capacity.”

But how anyone can safely stage any kind of large-scale public gathering, never mind a music festival, even with vaccinations increasing daily, remains to be seen. And this raises the question of who will be brave enough to attend, regardless of where the vaccination effort stands in October.

A year into the worst health and financial crises in generations, the live music industry, including festivals, continues to struggle against its greatest challenge ever. Restrictions on public gatherings prompted by the pandemic have closed venues across the country, canceled festivals and triggered billions in federal aid to support the live music industry. 

In New York, restrictions have allowed “incidental music” at restaurants but prevented ticketed events and even the advertising of musical acts. Recently, restrictions as they relate to large venues have been eased. But the live music industry remains on life support. 

The O+ organizers, whose festival began in Kingston and expanded across the country, however, remain undeterred.

“We are committed to honoring donations made last year to support a festival that is free to the public,” the press release said. 

The theme of the 2021 O+ Festival is Oxygen. 

“Oxygen is essential,” O+ Art Director Lindsey Wolkowicz said. “It connects all living organisms through a cycle of exchange and function of our bodies that, for many of us, is automatic or even taken for granted. In countless ways, we have been made aware of our breath through compounding crises over the last year. But breathing in oxygen is also at the center of healing, balance, self-empowerment and our shared humanity.”

Art and music submissions will be accepted from mid April-May 19th. Click here to learn more. 

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