Sapporo International Art Festival 2020 Cancelled

The Sapporo International Art Festival Executive Committee has been engaged in preparations for the Sapporo International Art Festival 2020 scheduled to be held in December for quite some time, and planned to make a final announcement regarding participating artists, artworks and other details in September.

However, due to the possibility that travel restrictions and calls to refrain from the transfer of personnel amidst the continuing global spread of COVID-19 could make it difficult to not only prepare for and make the exhibition a reality but also appreciate the artworks and performances while experiencing the appeal of Sapporo in winter, as well as the fact that a delay in making such a decision would place a tremendous burden on all parties involved, the Executive Committee has regrettably decided to cancel Sapporo International Art Festival 2020.

It should be noted that plans are slated to compile the details of this art festival, which was planned and developed over the course of more than two years, as well as information on participating artists, artwork ideas, and publish a documentation on the SIAF2020 website and other platforms in a short time.

Going forward, the Sapporo International Art Festival Executive Committee will carry out discussions regarding the holding of Sapporo International Art Festival 2023.

A video message from the three directors regarding the cancellation will be published online on the SIAF YouTube channel at 5:00 p.m. (JST) on July 22.
We also plan to organize different opportunities for dialogue between the audience, the directors, and the participating artists going forward.

Message from the Chairperson of the Sapporo International Art Festival Executive Committee

We had planned to hold Sapporo International Art Festival 2020—Sapporo’s third art festival—in winter for the first time. This decision was made in hopes of enabling participants and visitors to experience contemporary and media art in the snowy city of Sapporo. To this end, the directors, curators, artists, secretariat staff, and all others involved united to move forward with discussions and preparations.

As we witnessed the spread of COVID-19 around the world at the beginning of this year, I have received a variety of options for holding the event, including proposals for utilizing online platforms from our team of directors and continued to discuss with them. In the end, however, we, the Sapporo International Art Festival Executive Committee, made the decision to cancel the event in recognition of the fact that the essence of this art festival is to provide participants and visitors with the opportunity to directly experience both the city of Sapporo and the artworks exhibited on site.

Although Sapporo International Art Festival 2020 has been cancelled, we would like to compile a documentation of all the planning that went into it as well as the background behind the preparations completed thus far so that this cultural and artistic endeavor can lead the way to the next edition. In addition, we will be considering the feasibility of conducting related events this winter as well as embarking on discussions regarding the holding of the next SIAF three years from now.

I look forward to your continued support and encourage you to keep abreast of the latest information on Sapporo International Art Festival.

Katsuhiro Akimoto
Chairperson of the Sapporo International Art Festival Executive Committee
Mayor of Sapporo


Message from the Director in Chief of Sapporo International Art Festival 2020

I am writing this message regarding the cancellation of Sapporo International Art Festival 2020 on behalf of the team of directors.

As stated in the cancellation notice, our inability to predict the impact of COVID-19 in the coming months is the primary reason we cancelled this festival. The decision to cancel was not made in haste. In May, the secretariat began expressing concerns about holding the event this year, and I would like to take this opportunity to convey to everyone that thorough discussions were carried out thereafter between the directors and the secretariat in an attempt to devise remedial measures.

It is common knowledge that once the COVID-19 pandemic began taking hold in March of this year and thereafter, other art festivals and museum exhibitions found themselves faced with venue closures or postponements. This was simply because there was no way they could have predicted how severe the situation would become during the preparation phase. Given the circumstances, we—who were poised to begin preparations for our own exhibition—could not ignore the reality that there was no way for us to ensure the festival could be held safely and at a reasonable cost.

While our art festival has been cancelled, we would like to—with your understanding —leave behind an archive of all that had been planned in order to share it with not only the residents of Sapporo but also others in Japan and around the globe since we had already reached the stage of finalizing our artist lineup and their planned projects and artworks. We believe that archiving Sapporo International Art Festival 2020 will also provide an opportunity to pave the way toward the next edition in 2023.

Last but not least, I would like to recognize our lineup of participating artists for not only providing various ideas and inspiration for everything from the concept to the planned projects and artworks but also working together with us on preparations to make this art festival become a reality. Thank you again for your enthusiasm and cooperation. Finally, we would like to express our appreciation to all those who provided us with support and cooperation along the way.

Taro Amano
Sapporo International Art Festival 2020 Director in Chief