An update on COVID-19

Monday 6 April 2020


We know these are uncertain times, and we can't know what the situation will be this summer, or whether the festival will be able to go ahead. But we do want to be ready if restrictions are lifted and public gatherings can safely resume by July, so we carry on working behind the scenes to make this a possibility. Thank you to all those who have written to say that even the small prospect of attending Three Choirs this July is a ray of hope. Equally, we know some of you will be nervous about attending a large venue even if guidelines are relaxed. We respect both views and everything in between, and would like to reiterate that we will not risk the welfare of our performers, staff, volunteers or audiences.

None of us know for certain what the coming weeks will bring, but we want to honour the priority access to seats that our loyal members value. Therefore, if you call or write to the box office, we will place a ticket reservation on hold without asking for payment until the situation this summer is clearer. You can also still book online, but we're unable to change the system to reserve tickets without payment (we will continue to honour the offer of full refunds in the event of cancellation or if you cannot attend for any reason relating to COVID-19).

If you're still hopeful we might enjoy a summer of musicmaking together, please do consider making your reservation. We are presently operating on a skeleton staff, but will make sure all calls are returned in the order they're recieved if you're unable to get through first time.

Tuesday 24 March 2020


Following the fresh advice issued by government on Monday 23 March, and in consultation with Board Members, we have today taken the decision to furlough the majority of Three Choirs Festival staff until such time as we are clearer about the possibility of holding the festival in the summer.

We remain optimistic that the present situation will be behind us by July but recognise that even if we are able to proceed, adjustments to the artistic and logistical planning of the festival are likely to be required and cannot presently be anticipated. To this end, we are pausing all planning until we are clearer about the form the festival may be able to take.

In order to ensure the financial viability of the organisation in the interim, our workforce has now been altered as follows:

• Alexis Paterson, Chief Executive
• Roger Collcott, Finance Manager (PT)
• Robert Convey, Sales and Customer Services Manager (including general enquiry/ticket lines)
• Casual Box Office Staff – occasional shifts around on sale dates

All other staff will be furloughed by the end of this week (no later than 27 March). After this date, urgent matters should be redirected to the Chief Executive in the first instance.

Ticket Sales

Further to our previous appeals, we would still like to encourage people to contact the box office when their designated booking dates arrive. Doing so will help us gauge the appeal and financial viability of the festival should restrictions be lifted by the summer. However, in recognition of the financial challenges many are facing, and to minimise our workload in the event of cancellation we will not be asking for payment until we are certain the festival can proceed. Instead, your order will be placed on an open-ended reservation, and we will contact you to confirm the booking once the situation is clearer.

I would like to urge you to consider taking this opportunity to place a hold on your preferred tickets: a perceived lack of interest in attending the festival – in the event that it can take place from a Public Health perspective – will ultimately lead to its cancellation this year. Please be patient if you find it difficult to get through: our reduced staff will still call everyone back in the order they leave voicemails.

Please be assured that we will not press ahead with the festival if there is any risk to the health and welfare of our audiences, performers or staff, and we will follow all government advice scrupulously. However, we are also concerned for all those performers and suppliers who depend on events like ours and want to do all we can to ensure their income resumes at the earliest opportunity.

We hold fast to the importance of shared cultural experiences and believe these will be much needed when we emerge from this crisis. We continue to hope that the present measures will allow the country to stabilise and return to health by the summer, and we remain ready to bring glorious music to you again as soon as we can.

In the meantime, I wish our audiences and supporters good health and hope.

With best wishes,

Alexis Paterson
Chief Executive

Friday 20 March 2020 

At the time of writing, advice concerning the spread of Coronavirus is rapidly evolving, and it is clear that no one can presently be certain of the situation in July. We continue to monitor government advice on public events and will comply with any instruction to cancel or limit capacity, but we are hopeful that the festival will take place as usual, albeit with additional handwashing and sanitisation facilities to maintain the safety of our audience.Should cancellation become necessary, we will advise bookers at the earliest opportunity and refund tickets, and we are working on a range of contingency measures in order to respond swiftly and positively to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation.

All arts organisations naturally depend on people attending their events, but we recognise that bookers cannot predict whether they might need to self-isolate during the festival dates, and that it is important for the general well-being of other festival bookers that people do not attend if they are at risk of spreading the virus. For this reason, we are waiving our usual ticket refund policy, and anyone who cannot attend due to COVID-19 (either through illness or suspected contact), may have the value of their order fully credited to their account, regardless of our ability to resell the tickets. We hope this allows you to book early with confidence, to secure the best seats, despite the unpredictable nature of the situation.

From looking at how we can go on sale as planned by offering a reassuring refund policy to bookers affected by the outbreak, to accommodating a delayed start to chorus rehearsals and adding extra handwashing facilities and hygiene measures at the festival itself, we’re doing everything we can to weather this unprecedented storm while keeping the welfare of audiences, performers and staff at the forefront of our minds. I’d like to appeal to audiences to get behind us and any arts organisation who’s still carrying on. Simply by booking with confidence, you can help us to keep contracts in place with all of the many individual performers, contractors, staff and local suppliers who will be depending on events starting up again as soon as restrictions on gatherings are lifted. This event – thought to be the oldest classical music festival in the world – has survived a few international crises in its three-hundred-plus years, and we’re absolutely committed to sharing the power and joy of making music for as long as we possibly can. I sincerely hope this summer will be a celebration of our communities coming together again after such a challenging time.

Alexis Paterson, Chief Executive