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MAG’s Clothesline Festival goes virtual

CITY Newspaper/File photo

The Memorial Art Gallery’s 2020 Clothesline Festival, originally scheduled for September 12-13, will be held exclusively online as a week-long event this fall, from September 12-18, the museum announced Friday.

In an email to subscribers, MAG Director Jonathan Binstock said that the change in the annual arts festival’s format was, unsurprisingly, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“The most important concern is for the safety and health of our artists, staff, volunteers, vendors, musicians and our community,” Binstock wrote. “The decision to move this year’s Festival online was extremely difficult. It is MAG’s largest annual fundraiser, and a ton of fun. It’s always a highlight of my summer.”

The Clothesline Festival, held annually for 64 years on the Memorial Art Gallery’s campus in the Neighborhood of the Arts, features artists from across the country and spotlights emerging artists. It also includes musical performances, vendors selling festival food and beverages, and access for visitors to the museum’s collections.

By presenting their work in a virtual festival, vendors stand to reach a wider audience than they would among strolling patrons at the event, but the change of format puts an additional financial strain on the gallery, which has had standing fundraising issues since the beginning of the pandemic.

In Friday’s email, MAG representatives also noted that the festival’s title sponsor, M&T Bank, will match every gift to MAG’s Annual Fund dollar-for-dollar up to $25,000 from September 12–18. But some details, including whether there will be an admissions fee for online patrons, were not immediately available.

All confirmed artists have the option to receive a refund for this year’s booth reservation or transfer to the 2021 festival. Artist inquiries can be emailed to

More information is available at

Rebecca Rafferty is CITY's arts & entertainment editor. She can be reached at