As COVID-19 numbers remain concerningly high, and with cooler temperatures on the horizon that are about to push everyone back indoors, one of Portland’s largest productions of new theatrical works has decided it will remain virtual in 2022.
The Fertile Ground Festival announced that online programming is scheduled to begin Thursday, Jan. 27, and run through Sunday, Feb. 6, of next year. Organizers admit it took some time to come to the conclusion that they should not return to traditional events, even as most local theater companies prepare to fill their seats again this fall. But, ultimately, safety was a top priority.
“Our decision to go virtual again for FG22 comes after a great deal of deliberation, with regard to the Delta variant and beyond,” said Nicole Lane, the festival’s director, stated in a press release. “There are many unknowns the performing arts are facing in a landscape that continues to change. Additionally, the virtual format offers greater access to artists who may not be in a position to find and rent a physical space.”
But just because audience members can’t see the performances in person, doesn’t mean you should expect the exact same format as 2021.
The 13th annual festival is returning to its uncurated roots, offering a showcase to all area artists. Additionally, instead of presenting previously selected shows online via the Fertile Ground distribution channels, participants will release material on their own platforms.
“Until last year, Fertile Ground was an uncurated festival—the only parameters being that the project is new work and that the artists involved are Portland-area based,” says Dre Slaman, Fertile Ground’s managing director. “Being uncurated is a feature that is unique to our festival, and we want to continue to provide a platform for all area artists to share their new work with new audiences.”
Producers will also set their own pricing unlike last year, which was donation only. Once participants have determined how they will disseminate their content, Fertile Ground says it plans to provide descriptions and links on its website.
Producer registration is currently underway through Oct. 15. Those artists will then be publicly announced on Dec. 1.