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The Committee decided, regretfully, to defer the MCAA Festival from 31st October – 1st November 2020 to a mutually agreeable weekend in October/November 2021.

The Committee noted that whilst Australia has reflected relatively impressive outcomes in contending with the Coronavirus Covid-19 Pandemic and that some restrictions are gradually being lifted, the challenges of considering the circumstances of choirs from three states, one territory and New Zealand were increasingly problematic.

The recent survey completed by the executives of all choirs intending to participate has informed the Committee's thinking, together with
ongoing advice, guidelines and directives from state and territory governments, health authorities and the National Cabinet. The most recent MCAA Bulletin (No 5) advised that a final decision on whether the Festival would proceed or not would be made by mid-July. Several subsequent factors including responses in the survey impressed upon the Committee to bring forward that decision.

Arguments for delaying a decision were soundly discussed. However, the main arguments against delay included lack of adequate rehearsal time to
ensure a credible performance, continued uncertainty of recommencement of rehearsals and under what conditions, and considerable concern that numerous individual choristers would decide not to participate with commensurate effects upon audience numbers. Some choirs had already reversed their decision to participate.

All of the above presumed that the Sydney Town Hall would ultimately allow the MCAA to hold the festival at all and, again, under what social distancing restrictions for an indoor venue for all of choristers, conductors, guest artists, band and audience. No guarantee exists that sufficient numbers could attend in five months' time to ensure a musically and financially viable venture.

The desired November 2021 Festival would perform the current "Red Book" repertoire. Liaison will commence immediately with the Sydney Town Hall and Musical Director, Paul Jarman, to find a suitable weekend approximately 12 months hence. Once that weekend is finalised, attempts will be made to re-schedule with the Pitt Street Uniting Church for the Saturday afternoon rehearsal, and with Captain Cook Cruises for the Saturday night dinner. All currently engaged guest artists and the band will be given first refusal to join with us again in 2021. It is hoped that all current booking deposits and contracts can simply be retained with only the dates needing to be changed.

The Committee expects that initial overtures to effect the above deferral may take 5-6 weeks across all stakeholders. The Committee hopes that you having this decision now will remove pressures on all choirs and guest artists concerning numerous ongoing uncertainties about such a large undertaking in only five months' time. The Committee shares your disappointment. We are not alone in the musical world in our disappointment.

The Committee also hopes that all choirs, including those choirs who were unable to commit for 2020, will commit in principle for a rescheduled Festival in November 2021, the confirmed dates for which I look forward to advising you very soon.

Keep yourselves and your families healthy and safe as you do your best to continue singing.

Best wishes
NEIL FLEMING
President
31st May 2020

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