This story has been updated (see bottom).
On Monday morning (4-27), the ACM Awards announced their new plans for the recently-postponed 2020 presentation. Originally scheduled to occur on Sunday, April 5th in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand, it will now be held at The Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman Auditorium, and the Bluebird Cafe on September 16th, 2020. The original presentation was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To be hosted by Keith Urban, it hasn’t been determined what if any crowds will be involved in the ACM Awards presentation, but the hope is with incorporating multiple venues and not tasking the entirety of the Nashville-based country music industry to uproot and relocate to Las Vegas for a weekend, it will mitigate concerns about any Coronavirus social distancing or travel restrictions that may still be in place.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to host the rescheduled 55th ACM Awards in the home of Country Music for the first time in the Academy’s history,” says ACM CEO Damon Whiteside. “First and foremost, we want to ensure the safety of our artists and industry, and to ease the burdens of traveling large teams; therefore, we decided to bring the ACM Awards to them this September in Nashville. Now, more than ever, is the time to bring our community together to honor the best in our genre, and there is no more special place to do that than three of the most revered venues in Country Music. A huge thank you to these historic venues and to the state of Tennessee and city of Nashville for all of the support in making this a reality!”
However the newly rescheduled ACM Awards present a scheduling conflict, and it is a big one. Wednesday, September 16th falls smack dab in the middle of the city’s annual AmericanaFest gathering that is set to take place in 2020 from September 15th to the 20th. Furthermore, the event’s centerpiece—The Americana Music Awards—is scheduled to be on the same night, and at The Ryman Auditorium, which is listed as one of the venues where the ACM Awards will be held.
Though tickets are not currently on sale for the Americana Music Awards on September 16th at the Ryman, the date and location has been announced and confirmed for the Americana awards.
Saving Country Music reached out to the Americana Music Association for comment, and was told by the Association’s publicist, “At this time, the Americana Honors and Awards show is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, September 16th at the Ryman Auditorium. Under the circumstances we are, of course, monitoring the COVID-19 situation and assessing our event daily. Our artists’ and community’s safety is our utmost concern. We refer any questions regarding the Academy of Country Music’s announcement, to ACM leadership.”
Along with the awards themselves, The Americana Music Association also holds rehearsals in the Ryman Auditorium space days ahead of their awards that is usually streamed live online, and rebroadcast on PBS later in the year. Perhaps the performances the ACM Awards will present from the Ryman Auditorium will be pre-recorded, but they will have to be pre-recorded many days before the actual event to make way for Americana.
Beyond the awards, AmericanaFest also draws massive out-of-town crowds to Nashville, putting a run on hotel rooms, parking, and other resources downtown that now the ACM Awards and its attendees and support staff will by vying for. AmericanaFest usually draws some 300 official performers, and thousands of fans and industry participants, and ultilizes dozens of venues throughout Nashville, making it one of the biggest independent music gatherings annually in the United States. The event has been happening in Nashville for over 20 years.
As Saving Country Music pointed out in detail on March 18th, rescheduling spring events to the fall will present scheduling conflicts and other logistical issues, especially with big events like the ACM Awards and AmericanaFest. Though it’s still possible for the two events to be held simultaneously side by side, and the possibility the ongoing Coronavirus concerns could scale back both events from current plans, it could create a difficult situation for Nashville and music industry personnel.
UPDATE (4/27/20 6:40 p.m. CDT):
The ACM Awards have responded to the concern about both the ACM Awards and the Americana Music Awards being scheduled to take place at the Ryman Auditorium on September 16th with the following statement to Saving Country Music:
“Thank you for the opportunity to clarify our plans. The Academy’s current plan is to utilize the largest of the three iconic Nashville venues, the Grand Ole Opry House, as the live centerpiece of the night with select live performances from the Bluebird Cafe. Special performances and moments from the Ryman will be captured in advance of Sept. 16’s CBS broadcast of the 55th Academy of Country Music Awards. Our plans will remain fluid based on the status of the quarantine and we are prepared to adapt them based on the status of Nashville’s Roadmap for Reopening.“
This story has been updated (see bottom).