We believe that arts and culture are important in our communities: it builds us up, brings us together, inspires us, and gives us hope. That is the goal with PYGMALION 2020. We don’t put this program out into the world in vain; we see the crises in our country, and around the world, and hope this event can provide some joy, even if just for a few hours, or a few moments. There are no tickets on sale to anything. Programming is free and available to everyone. Instead, PYGMALION is raising money for worthy organizations that can help people in need right now.

It feels strange to be releasing a “festival” lineup at this moment with all of the tragedy happening in this country. Most recently, Jacob Blake was shot by the police while his children watched. The world is still reeling from the losses of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. Black Lives Matter. And we, the organizers of PYGMALION, do not take lightly the idea of creating space for this sort of engagement. 

A global pandemic is affecting every part of everyone’s life. There is no leadership, or even basic decency, coming from the White House. It has been a painful year. 

Nonetheless, we feel that we should still try to be human at this particular moment.

For the first fifteen years of PYGMALION, we literally went out of our way to keep the event live.  

Of the many pitches we would get, from ticketing sites, to sponsorships of various kinds, to political action groups, the streaming service companies were as consistent as the wind. And every year, we’d graciously decline the offer to have them come set up, film it, and sell tickets to anyone who wanted to watch from Singapore or Stockholm or Springfield. It just wasn’t interesting to us. 

Which is to say, streaming concerts and entertainment isn’t some sort of new technology. 

We’re not totally sure how well this will operate, if we are being honest. To have something so aged, so defined, suddenly deconstructed for you, in front of you, is a step short of traumatizing. It’s diminishing, that is for sure. But it’s also challenging, and that’s nothing we’ve ever been afraid of embracing. It is the challenge of this work that keeps us both engaged and honest, to ourselves, and to the artists we present, and to their audience. 

The idea in any year is to unpack a little humanity. At this moment, in the virtual space, we’ve decided to double down on that notion. We wish to interact, to play games, to create space, to listen — and listen well — to people who know more than us, or who have some perspective, some idea, about the past, the present, and if we are lucky, the future. 

Click around the site to see what we’ve done. Please, if you have the means, donate to one of the charities we’ve decided to try to help. And if you don’t, please, join us nevertheless. Indeed, your attendance and participation is what matters most to us. We want to feel human with you.


FULL DISCLOSURE: Smile Politely is owned and operated by the same company as PYGMALION.

A white poster detailing a lineup of performers and guests, in black text, there are four colorful circles at the bottom. Image provided by PYGMALION.
Image provided by PYGMALION.
Top image from PYGMALION.