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i-Represent International Documentary Film Festival 2020 postponed

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Yesterday, the organisers of i-Represent International Documentary Film Festival – Nigeria’s largest documentary film fiesta – announced that it had decided to postpone the event, which was originally scheduled to begin today, at the Freedom Park due to the global coronavirus outbreak.

Over the past weeks, the world has been facing an unprecedented challenge. The coronavirus has posed a special challenge to art institutions around the world.

The new coronavirus has already become the biggest story in our world — reaching more than 100 countries, killing 4,262, and infecting more than 118,101, according to the latest numbers from the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine COVID-19 map.

This global public health emergency — one of the six declared in recent years by the World Health Organization (WHO), beginning with the 2009 Swine flu — has already wiped out billions of dollars from the global economy, and according to Bloomberg could eventually cost the economy a total of $2.7 trillion.

In a statement signed by Femi Odugbemi, Co-Founder/Executive Director, of the festival, the organisers noted, “as a responsible organization that takes safety seriously, we want to do all we can to help keep our country and our participants safe and healthy.”

The statement said, “in view of the novel Coronavirus pandemic, the Foundation for the Promotion of Documentary Film in Africa, organisers of the popular i-Represent International Documentary Film Festival has taken the hard decision to postpone the year 2020 festival indefinitely.

“We clearly understand the preparation that may have gone into the decision to attend the festival. We commend the loyalty of our long standing partners and international collaborators, but to see that a lot of our resource persons and guests outside of Nigeria would not be able to make it to the festival is quite unfortunate, and moving the festival to a later date when we might all be able to celebrate the 10th anniversary of i-Rep Film Festival together, is a good course of action.

“We have constantly followed global developments on COVID-19 and have been monitoring appropriate sources for accurate and up-to-date information, and we believe our decision is the responsible thing to do, more so as we are expecting guests from Europe and America.

“Going forward, we would continuously monitor the situation and evaluate the risk actively. A new date would be communicated to the public very soon. We recognize that this is a challenging period globally, much as we are committed to the arts, we are equally committed to the safety of our guests, staff and our country.”

From museums and galleries to theatres and concert venues, fairs and festivals are facing closures and delays. It’s an unavoidable fact that some of the most moving experiences of art often involve being in crowded spaces.

Before i-Rep’s announcement, some of the of the art events that have been postponed or outrightly cancelled as a result of coronavirus include, Art Dubai, which has announced it is postponing its 14th edition in a bid to curtail the spread of the disease known as Covid-2019.

A day after Art Dubai announced that it would reschedule its 2020 edition (from its original March 25 to 28 dates) due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the Venice Architecture Biennale revealed that it, too, would be forced to postpone its upcoming edition.

The biennale, originally set to open May 23, will now open on August 29; the fair will keep its original closing date, November 29, shortening its planned run.

Art Basel Hong Kong called off its 2020 edition, art institutions across Japan are experiencing closures, Sotheby’s moved a modern and contemporary sale from Hong Kong to New York, and the Louvre temporarily closed this weekend as museum staff met to discuss preparations for the outbreak in France. According to the New York Times, the London Book Fair has been cancelled.

Austrian museum directors have decided to close all federal public museums until at least the end of March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the news agency APA reported, citing Johanna Rachinger, the director of the Austrian National Library.


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