October 19, 2020

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Pandemic forces Nuit Blanche organizers to pull plug, reschedule art party

RUTH BONNEVILLE / FREE PRSS FILES</p><p>There will be no sanctioned Nuit Blanche events Saturday. Instead, the group is working to reschedule its nine Illuminate the Night installations.</p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / FREE PRSS FILES

There will be no sanctioned Nuit Blanche events Saturday. Instead, the group is working to reschedule its nine Illuminate the Night installations.

Nuit Blanche Winnipeg organizers took to social media Thursday night to announce the annual late-night art party was being rescheduled amid public health concerns owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

The event, which was scheduled to take place Saturday, regularly draws thousands of partygoers to the city's core neighbourhoods with public art installations and events.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Nuit Blanche organizers were told by the province that they weren't in compliance with public health guidelines and they would need to keep outdoor crowds in 100-person cohorts in order to hold the event. The gathering size limit has been in place since June when the third phase of the government's Restoring Safe Services plan was released.

"It wasn't so much the size limits that they were concerned about, it was that there was no way to keep people within cohorts within those limits," said David Pensato, Culture Days Manitoba co-chair. "It was kind of late in the game and it's understandable. We've always been aware and prepared to pivot."

There will be no sanctioned Nuit Blanche events Saturday. Instead, the group is working to reschedule its nine Illuminate the Night installations — which receive an honorarium from the organization and are promoted under the Nuit Blanche banner — throughout the next month until Oct. 25 along with Culture Days Manitoba programming.

"We are working with each artist, each installation kind of on a one-by-one basis to figure out the best way to do it and when to reschedule," Pensato said. "I'm sure that there will be one or two that that just will not be possible and that's too bad, but we're committed to getting as much of them spread out throughout the month of Culture Days as we can."

There were about a dozen independent events planned for Saturday and Pensato said all have been notified of the change and encouraged to reschedule.

"If people are independently doing things, I think that's between them and the province," he said.

A new schedule has not yet been announced, but details will be posted to culturedays.ca/en/mb.

eva.wasney@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @evawasney

Eva Wasney

Eva Wasney
Arts Reporter

Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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