The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) and its Local Organizing Committee partners in Raleigh, North Carolina, announced that due to ongoing health concerns relating to COVID-19, and the logistical challenges of creating a safe in-person event experience, this year’s IBMA World of Bluegrass will take place virtually, the planned conference, showcases, awards and festival performances will be presented as an online experience September 28 - Oct. 3, with the possibility of extending event content beyond those dates.
“While we all would love to gather in Raleigh this year for IBMA World of Bluegrass, the extraordinary circumstances made this decision necessary,” said Paul Schiminger, Executive Director of IBMA. “Maintaining the health and safety of the large crowd we enjoy each year would be such an enormous, uncertain, and risky proposition.”
“However, we know how important this week is to our bluegrass professionals and fans, so we are moving forward in new ways,” said Schiminger. “We see this as an opportunity to reimagine every aspect of IBMA World of Bluegrass so we can still connect, educate, showcase, and perform in fun and engaging ways. And we hope to introduce new participants to the types of things we normally do in Raleigh so we can invite them to join us in person for the fun in 2021 and hopefully many years beyond. We deeply appreciate the ongoing partnership of the City of Raleigh, the hotels, PNC Bank - who have been our presenting sponsor since 2013 - and the many other important sponsors we have worked with over the years.They help make this the most important week in bluegrass.”
Discussions to keep the event in Raleigh, North Carolina, beyond 2021 have commenced. All parties involved would like to keep the successful partnership between the IBMA and the City of Raleigh moving forward through 2024.
“IBMA World of Bluegrass brings together some of the best and most talented traditional musicians in the world and, for the last seven years, thousands of music lovers and industry leaders have gathered in Raleigh to celebrate everything bluegrass,” said Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin. “And while it’s not possible to gather in person this year, we hope that Raleigh and the IBMA World of Bluegrass events will be at the top of everyone’s travel plans for 2021.”
About the IBMA Virtual Festival
As an unexpected bonus for bluegrass fans, nominees for one of the IBMA World of Bluegrass events, the 31st annual IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards, will be announced earlier than originally scheduled, with the announcement show taking place live on Friday, June 26 at 11 a.m. EDT/10 a.m. CDT on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction (Channel 61).
Additionally, the second and final round of Official Showcase Artists for the IBMA Bluegrass Ramble, the innovative showcase series that is part of IBMA World of Bluegrass, will be announced on June 18.
This year’s virtual IBMA World of Bluegrass event will incorporate all components of the in-person event, adapted to a virtual environment - with the added benefit of allowing the bluegrass industry to offer new activities to its members and reach new listeners across the globe.
Music fans will have access to:
- IBMA Bluegrass Ramble showcase;
- free live streaming, and on-demand sessions and performances of the IBMA Bluegrass Ramble showcases,
- the 31st Annual IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards,
- and IBMA Bluegrass Live! powered by PNC, a music festival with performers ranging from emerging artists to industry icons.
“We will be working hard to make this year work, and plan to use what we learn about building an online audience to expand the audience for when we’re back on Fayetteville Street,” said David Brower, Executive Director of PineCone, the local Raleigh non-profit music organization that produces the festival. “We hope that this experience will allow people to participate who haven’t been able to travel to Raleigh before, and that this will also inspire them to make plans to join us in Raleigh in 2021.”
The IBMA Business Conference will feature high-quality professional development sessions; 1-to-1 and group networking events such as a re-imagined Gig Fair; and a Virtual Exhibit Hall, where attendees can engage with vendors via chat and video chat, participate in live product demos, purchase merchandise directly from vendors and more.
For the eighth year, PNC Bank returns as the presenting sponsor of IBMA Bluegrass Live! powered by PNC. “This music festival has become one of our community’s most anticipated and loved events, and PNC is proud to help bring it to life,” said Jim Hansen, Regional President for PNC Bank for the Eastern Carolinas. “While the experience will be different this year, we remain committed to supporting this event and look forward to sharing in the beauty and vibrancy of bluegrass music in a virtual format.”
IBMA is actively working to develop innovative, compelling activities and content for this year’s event, and will be releasing information and updates throughout the summer. As additional details about IBMA World of Bluegrass 2020 virtual events are determined, they will be shared across the organization’s social media platforms, through email notification, and on worldofbluegrass.org and ibma.org. Updates will also be available via social media platforms and email newsletters of Raleigh partners, including PineCone, the Raleigh Convention Center, and Visit Raleigh.
According to data released by Visit Raleigh, attendance at IBMA World of Bluegrass has grown by more than 50% since moving to Raleigh in 2013. Over the last seven years combined, the event has attracted more than 1.2 million total attendees and generated more than $80 million in direct economic impact throughout Wake County. Last year’s event (2019) alone saw more than 200 acts perform, 218,000 attendees and generated $18.65 million in direct economic impact.
IBMA continues to offer a Community Resources page at its official website that offers updated information about COVID-19 that is relevant to the bluegrass community.