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THE Covid-19 outbreak has forced the cancellation of the inaugural Bulawayo Day and Arts Festival which were scheduled to start on June 1, 2020.
The Bulawayo Day and the Arts Festival are hosted by the Bulawayo City Council.
The events were supposed to start this Monday, ending Saturday and were meant to provide an opportunity for the city to showcase its profound heritage, rich diversity and creative nature.
"For the past few weeks, in conjunction with all the partners and stakeholders, we have been working hard to explore all avenues to put on this year's festival," council spokesperson Nesisa Mpofu said.
"However, due to the continuing uncertainty regarding holding of public gatherings, the increasing number of coronavirus positive cases, the threat to people's health, and the potential need for an extended period of social distancing, we have taken the collective decision to suspend our 2020 programme as was planned."
Mpofu said the festival will now be held June next year while encouraging artistes and audiences to stay at home in line with a government directive to try and prevent the spread of coronavirus.
"Please be assured that we remain committed to re-launching fully in 2021," said Mpofu.
The council spokesperson said the local authority will however hold a digital launch of the event via Facebook.
"We will however still recognise June 1 as Bulawayo Day," she said.
"We will also hold a digital launch and three special virtual online pop-up events from Wednesday 3rd June to Friday 5th June on the Bulawayo Arts Festival and city of Bulawayo Facebook pages.
"This virtual launch and footprint will run under the theme 'We Own Winter' (WOW)."
Mpofu said whilst the immediate future was uncertain, the pioneering spirit of the festival will continue through various pop-up events during the year.
"We are very sad to have had to make this decision, particularly for the many artists who were billed and had made such great work and for all the audiences and people for whom the festival is so important.
"We will be in touch once we have more news and dates for the future," she said.