Haddo Arts Festival 2020

3rd October 2020

Venue: Haddo House Hall

The year we went digital

This was a very different Haddo Arts Festival. We realised early on into the coronavirus pandemic that it was going to be very unlikely that the Festival could be staged in the usual way, with audiences in the various venues at Haddo. However, recognising that 2020 was proving difficult and challenging for everyone and particularly for performers and artists deprived of the ability to engage with audiences in live performance as concerts and festivals were cancelled, we wanted to help and support the musicians and performers by delivering as many elements of the Festival as possible, albeit it in a different way.

We postponed some events to the 10th anniversary Festival in 2021 and recorded most events and trailers at Haddo, retaining a sense of Haddo’s venues and introducing them to a wider audience. For the first time, we had a host for the whole Festival in Jamie MacDougall, who recorded introductions and the Festival trailer at Haddo. The Festival was broadcast as a series of YouTube Premieres from 3-8 October and can still be accessed on our YouTube channel here.

One element of the Festival did go ahead at Haddo. The visual arts exhibition, Experimental Use of 2m Space, was staged with a one-way system and social distancing in the South Courtyard and garden and despite the atrocious weather, attracted over 500 visitors.

Haddo House Choral & Operatic Society were unable to give the opening concert, due to pandemic restrictions. Nonetheless they gave permission for use of the Haddo Steinway and we very much hoped they would be back for 10th anniversary Festival in 2021. An unexpected pandemic silver lining - moving the Festival online meant that Haddo Children’s Theatre (HCT) could take part with a recording of their 2019 production of “Dazzle”, ensuring that the Haddo family of arts organisations was represented in the Festival programme.

We are grateful to all the performers for their understanding and willing co-operation as the Festival adapted to the changing circumstances, whether they agreed to postpone until 2021, or joined us in the digital world, meeting and overcoming the different challenges of creating the 2020 Festival: co-ordinating video and audio recordings; coming to Haddo to record or finding alternative venues; mastering new ways of delivering their performances.

Sadly, Haddo Arts lost a very great friend and supporter in early 2020 with the death of Alexander Gordon, the late Lord Aberdeen. We dedicated the 2020 Festival to his memory and hope that he would have been thrilled to see how the performers, technical and behind the scenes team rose to the challenge of ensuring that the 2020 Haddo Arts Festival was able to go ahead, albeit in a very different format, and engage with a UK and international audience to celebrate the arts at Haddo.