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Artown unveils refreshed festival for 2021

By Kristen Hackbarth
Cirque Zuma Zuma will perform for Artown's 2021 Family Series.

Artown, this week, is touting a new main stage location and a festival filled with diversity and inclusion for its 26th annual event. Organizers are promoting the 31-day July festival now to kick off ticket sales for several of its events.

This year, organizers have moved the festival’s main events to Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, which at four acres for the fenced venue, is a larger area than the festival’s traditional venue at Wingfield Park in downtown Reno.

The move was made to accommodate socially distanced four-person “pod” seating–marked areas spaced six feet apart.

For festival organizers, bringing live, in-person events back to the community is a priority.

“Last year COVID really devastated the live event community as well as all areas of the economy,” said Oliver X, festival marketing director. “I think the spirit this year is one of gratitude and excitement.”

Artown Executive Director Beth Macmillan agreed.

“This year we will bring our community back together, and we will be back together. For me that’s the most magical part of Artown.”

Social distancing will limit how many people will be able to come back together, however. In addition to the pods, some previously free events will be ticketed to manage capacity. Opening night, a free admission event which in the past has filled Wingfield Park beyond capacity, will now cost $15 per four-person pod.

Diversity was also touted as a major feature of Artown 2021. This year’s festival theme is “Everybody Artown,” which, according to X, is “because we want everybody to be included, to feel included, and to participate in 31 days of art, music and culture.”

In addition to Wednesday night Cultural Connections performances, diverse artists are peppered throughout the schedule, including the family series, discover the arts, and music performances.

One thing that won’t be as big a part of the festival this year is dance. Macmillan, herself a former dancer, said the stage being used at Rancho San Rafael, and the venue itself, is too complex for dance performances.

A complete schedule of Artown events is online at artown.org. Tickets went on sale Monday.

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