IBMA World of Bluegrass requires vaccinations, masks
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IBMA World of Bluegrass requires vaccinations, masks

Tuesday, August 17, 2021 – IBMA World of Bluegrass 2021 will require vaccinations and indoor masking for all participants at its annual event, coming to Raleigh, N.C. from Sept. 28-Oct. 2.

"In the interest of safety and a rapidly changing health environment for all the attendees, volunteers and artists, the International Bluegrass Music Association Board of Directors has unanimously approved changes to the health and safety protocols for the event. This year, attendance and participation in all registered and ticketed IBMA World of Bluegrass activities will now require proof of vaccination; masks will also be required for all indoor activities. In addition to the changes approved by the IBMA Board, the mayor of Raleigh, N.C. issued an emergency proclamation on Aug. 13 requiring people to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, in indoor public spaces and businesses," according to an IBMA press release.

Proof of vaccination without exceptions will be required for attendance at any IBMA World of Bluegrass activity requiring registration and ticketing: the IBMA Business Conference, the IBMA Bluegrass Ramble showcase series, the 32nd Annual IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards presented by Yamaha and the main stage at the Red Hat Amphitheater for IBMA Bluegrass Live!. IBMA World of Bluegrass indoor events will be at the Raleigh Convention Center, the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts and downtown venues.

Attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination upon check-in to the event and issued a wristband that must be worn at all IBMAWOB events. Anyone who has already purchased registration or tickets but prefers not to participate in the updated health protocols for the 2021 event will be given a choice with our updated refund policy, which will be available online at

"As live bluegrass music begins to re-emerge, our emphasis on a safe return cannot be understated," said Mike Simpson, IBMA's Board Chair. "We have been closely monitoring safety guidelines, and in the interest of everyone's safety, our Board of Directors has taken the unanimous position that participation in this year's World of Bluegrass begins and ends with safety - requiring proof of vaccination and indoor mask wearing. I am pleased to say that our discussions were strikingly non-political and focused purely on the best safety measures that we could take for all involved."

"Our internal surveys - conducted in both March and July - found that more than 90 percent of respondents planning to attend this year's World of Bluegrass also planned to be fully vaccinated before getting to Raleigh," said Pat Morris, IBMA's Executive Director. "We have been working diligently with our partners in Raleigh to bring the community together for an unmatched bluegrass experience in a safe environment, and the health and safety of our attendees is our number one priority. Some of the changes we have already made include planning for less crowding in the Raleigh Convention Center and Red Hat Amphitheater; streamlined scheduling, larger conference session spaces and careful consideration of bottleneck areas."

"For those not able to attend in person, we will be streaming select content throughout the week on Swapcard. Virtual attendees will have access to the virtual exhibit hall, conference sessions, music performances and more," said Morris. Details for virtual tickets will be announced in the coming weeks.

"The past 18 months have been so hard on all of us – and I know everyone missed getting together as a community, in person, for IBMA World of Bluegrass in 2020. I'm glad that we've found a way to safely gather back in Raleigh this fall; it will uplift music fans and musicians," said Tim Stafford of Blue Highway. "As a performing artist and new IBMA Board Member, I am grateful that we have taken important extra measures to allow us to once again make and celebrate live music in a safe environment."

"IBMA World of Bluegrass is the flagship event for our entire bluegrass community, bringing together fans and professionals from around the world to breathe life into the music scene we all love so much" added Chris Pandolfi of The Infamous Stringdusters and an IBMA Board Member. "I'm proud of IBMA for taking much needed steps to ensure that we can gather safely this fall in Raleigh to celebrate and grow bluegrass. Let's look after each other and the music we love. Can't wait to see you all in Raleigh."

"IBMA and our Raleigh partners will continue to analyze, update, and adjust health and safety measures for all aspects of IBMA World of Bluegrass in the coming weeks," said Morris.

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