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COVID-19 and the Acadia Trad Festival

As you are all aware, the Acadia Trad School announced several weeks ago that the 2020 Festival was to be our last. We made this decision prior to and independent of COVID-19. We were planning to pull out all the stops for this final Festival and invited additional faculty to join us for an extra special event.

COVID-19 has changed all that. Although the Festival is months away, we have significant concerns for the health and well-being of our students, faculty, concert goers and volunteers – many of whom travel to Bar Harbor from across the country and the world. The intimacy of the setting and the nature of our activities— group classes, jam sessions, concerts, dances, receptions, community meals — all bring us into close proximity to each other. The risk is simply too great.


So, with deep regret, we have decided to cancel the 2020 Acadia Trad Festival. It will not be rescheduled.

Please do what you can to support our faculty, all of whom have lost primary sources of income due to this virus. There are many ways to help – purchase music from their websites, sign up for online lessons and workshops, attend online concerts and tip generously, and sign up for other camps once all of this calms down. Please check our faculty’s individual artist websites, located on our Teaching Staff page, for how you can help.

Again, we are so very sorry to deliver this news. It has been an incredibly difficult decision for all of us. All of us at the Acadia Trad School were so looking forward to this summer.

And so, we leave you all with so many beautiful memories of the past 7 years. May we see each other soon, a bit farther down the road.

Jennifer Torrance, Executive Director
Nancy Neff, Operations Director
Hanz Araki, Festival Director

Acadia Trad School Announces Closure

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Greetings Acadia Trad family,

As Spring steadily approaches and we ramp up for the 2020 Acadia Trad Festival, I want to share with you some important news.

Due to a variety of personal, organizational, and logistical factors, our Board of Directors has determined that 2020 Festival (June 28 – July 3) will be our last. Later this year, when all of the Festival wrap-up is completed, we will formally disband the 501(c)3 entity known as the Acadia School of Traditional Music and Arts.

It has been an incredible eight years. We have built a community that spans the country and the world. We’ve inspired countless students of all ages to bring traditional music and dance into their lives, and to keep it there. We’ve brought programming to local schools and performance venues, infusing Down East Maine with the traditions we so adore. All of this has been accomplished by a small group of dedicated volunteers, to whom we will be ever grateful.

We are extremely proud of what we have accomplished, and we are not done yet. On April 16, we are bringing Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas back to Bar Harbor to work with local school children and give a public concert in town (get your tickets here). And in June, the 2020 Acadia Trad Festival will be our best yet, with an expanded program of major instruments and a powerhouse faculty. And, we hope to make it an extra special reunion by bringing back performers and students from our past (more news to come on that front!).

I have always felt that music and dance are particularly special art forms, ones that – much like life itself – must be appreciated for their fleeting, momentary nature. Our founder Chuck Donnelly reminded me recently of the beautiful Tibetan mandalas made of sand. They are created slowly and carefully by a community, appreciated for a time, and then brushed away, the individual grains of sand free to become another work of art. This June, we will close knowing we have created something powerful, and something beautiful that has touched many, many lives.

So, THANK YOU for being part of our history. In closing, we ask you — I personally ask you — please do what you can to keep the legacy of the Acadia Trad School alive in your community.  Keep playing, keep dancing, keep teaching, keep applauding. Start something, no matter how small. Keep attending festivals and camps, host concerts in your town, and keep making music with others. And, we sincerely hope you decide to join us this June, one last time.

With gratitude for the past and excitement for the future,

Jennifer Torrance, Executive Director
The Acadia School of Traditional Music & Arts