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Festival International considers expanding beyond downtown in 2021 due to COVID-19

Victoria Dodge
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Festival International de Louisiane is considering expanding to other locations in Lafayette and Youngsville to host events while following COVID-19 guidelines. 

Planning is in the beginning stages for the 2021 Festival, which marks the 35th annual event. The organization is considering spreading the downtown event in and around Lafayette to other outdoor areas. 

"It's premature to say much," Festival executive director Scott Feehan said. " ... We're looking for a crystal ball and the magic bullet."

Festival has spent several months on a "nothing is out of bounds" process — mapping out Festival, day by day, stage by stage — to pivot around the issue of not having their normal footprint. Organizers have to work through international flying restrictions and booking complications, along with COVID-19 constraints.

Festival has been meeting with board members, Downtown Development Authority and Mayor-President Josh Guillory to see what makes the most sense, Feehan said, adding the event will likely have to reinvent itself again for 2021 as it did for 2020.

"The different nationalities of people, music, stage settings, interesting instruments, flags and streetwalkers all had a hand in the design of the artwork," Tommy Hughes, 2020 Festival International pin and poster artist, said.

"We want Festival to come back in its normal form, but the reality is that downtown is a challenging, logistical venue on normal years. And this is not a normal year," Feehan said. 

The Festival team also is changing the way it creates its annual art design. The organization wants to hear from local Louisiana artists that "understand the magic of Festival International and feel enlightened to create a powerful piece," according to a Festival press release.

In previous years, Festival would select one "Official Artist" to create the collector pin, poster, shirts and other merchandise. This year, organizers want to bring together multiple artists with diverse backgrounds and media to create a piece of commissioned artwork. 

The 2021 theme will focus on the blend of art, music and love for people and cultures that Festival brings to Lafayette. 

Artists can apply as a group or as an individual looking to join a group. The deadline to submit a conceptual sketch and application is midnight Nov. 25. Artists can apply at festivalinternational.org/2021Collaboration/

Contact Victoria Dodge at vdodge@theadvertiser.com or on Twitter @Victoria_Dodge