Traditional Spanish Market decided Monday to call off this year’s event amid a growing sense that many, if not most, of Santa Fe’s summer art festivals won’t occur this year due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Santa Fe Indian Market announced Saturday it was moving its 99th market to 2021, and the board of directors at the International Folk Art Market met Monday to talk about the situation.
Spanish Market officials said concerns about the crisis forced their hand.
“The reality of it is it just is not possible to have that many people on the Plaza,” said Rob Coffland, board president of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society, which has staged the Spanish Market since 1926.
The three summer markets attract large numbers to Santa Fe, with teeming crowds that pack hotels and restaurants. Economic impact studies done in 2018 by Southwest Planning & Marketing determined Indian Market visitors spent $49.8 million in Santa Fe, excluding market purchases, and the folk art market generated $13.7 million in total economic impact.
A similar report has not been done for Spanish Market, said Randy Randall, executive director of Tourism Santa Fe, the city’s convention and visitors bureau.
Randall said Indian Market and Spanish Market are working on staging a virtual event of some kind, noting the pandemic’s effect on events is undeniable.
“I find that people are concerned about [continued] restrictions in respect to crowds,” Randall said. “That is just a huge unknown.”
Traditional Spanish Market, which describes itself as the “oldest and largest Spanish market in the U.S.,” started in 1926 with 11 artists. It has filled the Plaza every year since moving there in 1965 and has taken place every year since 1951, Coffland said.
“The decision to postpone this year’s Spanish Market is not an easy decision,” Spanish Market artist Joe Lobato said in a news release. “However, when artists, their families and the general public’s safety is foremost the concern, there is only one decision to be made and that is to postpone this year’s market.”
International Folk Art Market officials did not disclose the nature of Monday’s board meeting and would not comment publicly on the fate of this year’s event, which in early March had 160 artists from 52 countries scheduled to participate.
For his part, Randall said he believes tourism will be back in summer but acknowledged there may still be group-size limitations. But if travel gets a green light, Randall said people will come to Santa Fe.
“People will be looking for a place to rejuvenate,” Randall said. “I think we’ll still have a pretty decent summer. There may be a different group of visitors.”
The Santa Fe Opera and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, both with July starts, are still moving ahead with their summer seasons, as are many other opera and symphonic festivals set in July across the country.
“Regarding the postponement of the Indian Market, while hugely unfortunate, it doesn’t influence our current plans,” said Emily Doyle Moore, media director at Santa Fe Opera, where the season runs July 3 to Aug. 29. “We feel it is still too soon to predict the future of our 2020 season. We hope that over the course of the next month there will be greater clarity about the pandemic’s impact on public gatherings and travel in July and August.”
The Chamber Music Festival intends to have the writing done for its program book at the end of April. Performing artists typically don’t start arriving in Santa Fe until a week before the festival’s July 19 to Aug. 24 run, Executive Director Steven Ovitsky said.
“We want to wait until the end of the month and then have another look,” Ovitsky said. “We will see what the governor’s position is. We’ll take a look at the beginning of May, the middle of May and the end of May.”