Arts notes (6/24/20)

Youth Film Lab goes online

For the past two years, the Woodstock Film Festival has been cultivating young talent in the field via a live program called the Summer Youth Film Lab. This year, the program will make its third annual appearance in a new online format. This free-of-charge educational program, generously underwritten by an anonymous donor, serves mid-Hudson-area teens selected through an application process. It will run from July 6 to 24.

In accordance with social-distancing guidelines, the 2020 Lab will be centered on teaching students how to create their own short films using iPads loaded with state-of-the-art filmmaking software. “The obstacles presented to us due to the pandemic pushed us to think outside the box and develop this great opportunity for our students,” said Meira Blaustein, Woodstock Film Festival co-founder and executive director.

Each participant will learn every stage of the production process and be tasked with creating an original narrative or documentary film.


“Any filmmaker will tell you that you don’t need a fancy camera or a million-dollar budget to tell a story,” said SUNY New Paltz digital media professor Megan Sperry. “What you really need is a good story and the motivation to share it with an audience.”

This year’s Lab mentors include actor Kelsey Grammar, director Debra Granik, music supervisor Tracy McKnight, editor Kate Sanford, producer Peter Saraf, screenwriter Ron Nyswaner and animators Joy Buran and Noelle Melody 

To learn more about how to apply to participate, call WFF at 679-4265, e-mail or visit

— Frances Marion Platt

Virtual chamber music

After more than a century of annual summer concerts by music-world royalty, Maverick Concerts was faced with the same dilemma as other performing arts institutions in this virus-ravaged year: how to present the arts without congregating humans too closely to stay safe and healthy. Maverick’s live 2020 chamber music festival was originally scheduled to launch on June 27 in its “music chapel in the woods” on the outskirts of Woodstock. The live season was canceled, but the Maverick’s directors are developing  two series of free virtual events. The audio series “The Maverick Hour” will commence on June 28m and the visual series “Maverick Concerts All Access” begins the Fourth of July weekend.

Co-hosted by Alexander Platt and Rob Brown, the twelve-part Maverick Hour series will feature broadcasts of revered past concerts recorded live at Maverick’s Concert Hall. The episodes will air at 5 p.m. each Sunday from June 28 to September 13 on WHMT-FM 89.1 or 88.7 and at Performances during the first month of the series will include the Shanghai Quartet with Ran Dank on June 28; “The Spanish Style” featuring the Maverick Chamber Players, Aurea Ensemble, Jenny Lin, Lucy Schafer and Maria Todaro on July 5; a tribute to Woodstock composer Robert Starer with the Maverick Chamber Players, Aurea Ensemble, Stephen Gosling, Adam Tendler and Emmanuel Feldman on July 12; the Danish and Escher String Quarters on July 19; and the Borromeo String Quartet on July 26.

“Maverick Concerts All Access” is a five-part visual series featuring artists who were scheduled to perform during the live 2020 festival, to be made available in installments via Maverick Concert’s Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Vimeo channels.

For the full summer 2020 schedule and further information, visit

— Frances Marion Platt

Balloon Festival postponed

The 29th annual Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival, scheduled for July 10-12, is being postponed until a later date in the fall of this year. The Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce is working with its partners on alternative formats to this event.  The movement of the festival to the fall will still provide the majesty of hot-air balloons and an opportunity for attendees from around the region and beyond to safely participate in the event while enjoying all that the Hudson Valley offers.

Further details will be announced as soon as possible.

Anyone who has previously purchased tickets to attend the event, ride in a balloon,or participate as a vendor will be contacted to provide a refund.

“Our community could use an uplifting event like this right now, and we will continue to work towards delivering a terrific festival for our community this fall,” said Frank Castella Jr., the Dutchess County Chamber’s president and CEO.

Bethel Woods cancels 

Bethel Woods Center for the Arts announced last week its decision to cancel its 2020 pavilion season due to the pandemic. The season was to include over 20 shows, with performances by James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, and The Black Crowes, among others.

Eric Frances, chief executive officer of Bethel Woods said, “Our concerts have been enjoyed against a backdrop of the invigorating summer sun and the bright moon and stars on a clear night. At other times, we endured torrential rain, lightning, and squalls of wind …. It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that the pavilion stage will not be opening this summer. We have worked tirelessly to navigate governmental restrictions and the pandemic’s impact on the concert industry, resulting in many artists cancelling their tour.”

Many concert dates have been moved to 2021. The 800+ acre campus, consisting of multiple venues and spaces, is exploring alternative programming if viable. Frances states, “While this is not the outcome any of us desired, we assure you that we will weather this storm and connect with you in other ways until we can be together again.”

Ticket holders, members and season lawn pass holders have the option to 1) donate all or a portion of their ticket(s)/membership value to help sustain Bethel Woods and continue programming and preservation efforts at the historic site; 2) defer their value to respective 2021 events, memberships or season lawn passes; 3) receive a full refund. Any donation of tickets, memberships and season lawn passes will be matched by a member of the board of trustees. For details and FAQs on refunds please visit,

Renaissance Faire cancels 

Per recommendations from the CDC, the New York Renaissance Faire will not be opening this season, but will reopen for its 44th season in 2021. Return your 2020 general admission ticket(s) and the faire will exchange them for general admission ticket(s) valid for the 2021 season, plus one complimentary ticket for each paid ticket you return.

To take advantage of this offer, mail your ticket(s) to the following address, postmarked no later than July 15, 2020. Please allow 8-12 weeks for processing.

Renaissance Pleasure Faire, ATTN: New York Tickets, 5027 Irwindale Avenue, STE 200, Irwindale, CA 91706 .

Season pass holders may roll their season passes over to 2021 or contact  for a full refund.