Organizers explain Art District mass gathering

The organizers of the Visayas Islands Visual Arts Exhibition and Conference (VIVA ExCon) explained that there was no event at the Art District in Barangay Mandalagan, Bacolod City, on Friday, November 6, after attendees were seen disregarding the minimum health protocols against the coronavirus disease.

In a statement Monday, November 9, the organizers said that in preparation for the VIVA ExCon opening on November 8 that was conducted virtually, an exhibition was organized for the sole purpose of simulating a live opening for video recording.

“There was no event, no invitation was sent and no announcement was made. It was unfortunate that the set attracted the usual Art District crowd and management was not able to control their enthusiasm,” the statement said.

However, the organizers did stop the activity after sufficient takes to disperse the crowd. Subsequently, the Art District remained closed on the following days, it added.

The organizers said that the main goal of VIVA ExCon was to celebrate Visayan art by bridging the islands of the Visayas to provide a venue to facilitate dialogs, interaction, networking and cultural exchanges, thus, addressing fundamental and relevant issues among visual art communities and related stakeholders.

“We care about our community and we feel it is our responsibility to try to keep the spirits of the artists alive during this unprecedented struggle. This is the very reason why VIVA ExCon is going virtual for the first time in its 30 years of existence,” it said.

The organizers also apologized to the community for what had happened.

“With all humility, the art family extends our apology to the community for the concern raised regarding the November 6 occurrence. We would like to reassure the community that as a matter of habit, Art District conforms to the mandated health protocol and consistently assists those within its reach through the Art Heals fundraising initiative to deliver aid throughout the course of the quarantine,” the statement said.

Earlier, Ma. Joy Maredith Madayag, city director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, pointed out that in the video circulating on social media, Viva ExCon 2020 attendees were seen partying without face masks, no social distancing, and consuming alcohol in public.

Madayag said the incident is being investigated, and that the Business Permit and Licensing Office will inspect the area, while the Philippine National Police was ordered to further intensify its checkpoint operations.*

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