Rogue Festival 2021 Update

Hello Rogues, 

As September 1st is normally our “Applications are Open” day, I wanted to give you all an update on our plans for Rogue 2021. We haven’t forgotten about you!


Things are clearly not business-as-usual (are they for anyone?). The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown arts and events planning for a loop, to say the least. This year’s Executive Team (myself, Amber Strid and Wendy Berry) spent July hammering out contingency plans for next March’s festival. We thought we had things well detailed and we received our board of director’s approval for a “Modified Festival with precautions” as a Plan A, hoping that trends would show containment of the virus and a reopening of live entertainment by early spring. We also had plans for a Hybrid Festival (part-live, part-virtual) and an All Virtual Festival as our Plans B and C. 


However, as we moved into the middle of August, it became clear that the COVID-19 numbers in Fresno County weren’t going to abate easily. Our county still has a widespread outbreak and a large portion of residents and businesses in our area are ignoring quarantine, mask, and social distancing guidelines. We’ve been on the State’s watchlist since early June. Our daily case numbers regularly spike and the trends continue with no sign of moving downward soon. Hospitals are at max capacity. Currently, according to experts, a gathering of 25 people in Fresno County will have a 76% chance that it will contain a person infected with COVID-19. (25 is our half-house size at Rogue Festival.) All of this has made for slow progress in our region. We don’t expect that progress to speed up much in the coming months. 




With that knowledge, the Executive Team felt uncomfortable asking venues and performers to commit to a live festival this early in the Rogue planning calendar, especially since we cannot say for certain that a live festival will be forthcoming. Our venues are particularly badly hit by the coronavirus as they are mostly closed bars, cafes reduced to curbside service, restaurants only allowed to seat people outdoors, or small live arts spaces that cannot fully operate right now. They are struggling and they don’t know what life will look like in March.

Performers, too, are struggling and we’re keenly aware that many of them may not have the cash flow to commit to application and venue fees on our usual schedule. And we may not be able to commit to giving them a live performance slot. 


So out of respect for these uncertain circumstances, we’ve decided to flip the script on our original plans. Our team will plan an All-Virtual Festival, streaming shows on Zoom, and performer fees more fitting to what performers can manage at this time. 




However, we don’t want to plan ONLY for a virtual festival and lose out on the chance to have live performances if possible. One of Rogue Festival’s major assets as an arts organization has always been our ability to work quickly with what is available to us. We will still be watching the public health conditions and guidelines in January and February. If we have the opportunity to open up a few of our outdoor venues and have a handful of live performances, we will take it. Performers who are already part of the Virtual Rogue will be given first opportunity to perform a live slot, if possible. 


So, essentially, we are planning a Virtual Rogue for 2021, with the option to pivot to a Hybrid Rogue if we can do so. Our patio venues are very easy to put up with as little as a week’s notice. We can arrange for ticketing and some of our most devoted volunteers to cover those shifts very quickly as well. As we say at Rogue, “We ain’t fancy, but we get it done!” 



I know that performers who are looking for opportunities have many questions at this point. So here’s a rough outline:

Virtual Rogue Lottery Applications will be accepted October 11 – 30. The Lottery will be drawn on November 1. By then, we will have more details around our new plans. 

  • We hope to have those details up on our site in early October so you can read through our plans, the contracts, fee schedule, etc. and decide if this year’s Rogue Festival is the right choice for you. 
  • The fees, contracts and show information will be due November 28th. 
  • Rogue Festival will provide ticketing support, virtual venue (Zoom hosting and virtual crewmember support), and marketing outreach to our audiences. Performers provide their own virtual presentation and equipment on their end. 
  • Each performer selected by lottery will receive one show slot each weekend of the festival to build word of mouth via online reviews for the second weekend. 
  • Performer shows can be performed live or recorded, edited and streamed from Rogue Festival’s Zoom account during the time slots given. 
  • Teaser show will be pre-recorded 2 minute teasers we edit together and live stream with a watch party on our Facebook and Instagram. 
  • All tickets will be $10 and performers chosen by the Rogue Lottery still receive 100% of their ticket sales (minus ticketleap fees.)
  • The Artist Underground program will also go virtual for artists who would like to control their own ticketing details, virtual venue (platform), and scheduling but would like to list their show with us and take advantage of our marketing efforts. 
  • Off-Rogues will be similar to Artist Undergrounds. If an Off-Rogue producer would like to curate and support a slate of shows with their own schedule and virtual venue and have it listed with Rogue Festival, that is possible. 
  • Billets will not be provided for 2021. 


If we pivot to hybrid, the performers already scheduled for our Virtual Festival who indicated a willingness to perform live (if possible) will be drawn for any live slots available. The venue will most likely be outdoor, under a tent, with a PA, a lighting wash, and a single mic. All public health guidelines will be maintained. The decision to move to a hybrid festival will be based on a combination of the following criteria:

  • CA Dept of Public Health Guidelines allowing for gatherings of under 50
  • CA Dept of Public Health Guidelines allowing for small audience live performances
  • Bars and restaurants being completely open for business
  • Gatherings of up to 50 people having a <30% chance of COVID-19 Exposure according to this COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool (run by Stanford U and Georgia Institute of Technology).
  • Fresno County no longer being on the State’s watchlist for COVID-19 outbreaks. 




I have already run upwards of 1000 words, but one of the things we try to do is maintain honesty and openness with our performers and community. When we have answers, we will do our best to give them. If we don’t have answers, we will try to find them. It’s a year of figuring it out as we go along and we’re in this together. 


If you’re a performer, volunteer, or audience member with Rogue, we understand if you have questions. More details and the performer contracts will be available on our website in October. You can always ask a question regarding this post on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) or send me an email directly:


The Rogue Abides.



on behalf of the Executive Team:

Heather Parish, administrative producer

Amber Strid, operations producer

and Wendy Berry, associate producer