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Columbia Museum of Art hallmark Arts and Draughts, set to return Friday, is canceled

Boyd Plaza fountain.jpg (copy)

John A. Carlos II / Special to The Free Times

Columbia’s popular Arts and Draughts event was canceled on Sept. 9, just one day before it was to be held.

The mostly-quarterly Columbia Museum of Art event typically gathers hundreds or more attendees of people to peruse the latest exhibitions and the permanent collection, drink curated beers, and listen to several live bands throughout the building. The museum announced the cancelation on its Facebook page on Thursday morning and said it would look towards spring for the next event.

The event was to be held Sept. 10, on the final weekend of current blockbuster exhibition "The Ironic Curtain," and would have been the first in-person version of the event since 2019. The museum hosted a virtual version of the event last year.

The museum's move come as on Sept. 8 the Columbia City Council re-instated a mask mandate for the next 30 days, requiring masks be worn inside most public gathering spots. 

Free Times is awaiting further comment from the museum about the decision to cancel.

Phill Blair, the longtime event organizer who helps plan Arts & Draughts and the owner of popular bars The Whig and WECO Bottle and Biergarten, said they had discussed running the event only a few days prior to the cancelation. He said he wasn’t heavily involved in the decision, beyond getting asked about what impact it would have for him.

He said he’s not shocked by the decision. As to the timing, he said Columbia’s recent mask mandate came about quickly and reasoned it was an appropriate decision for the museum.

“Obviously we’re fine with whatever they want to decide. It’s their building, I think it makes sense,” Blair said. “We would’ve had hundred and hundreds of people out on the plaza. Yes, its outdoors but there seems to be some thought that you have to wear masks outdoors.

"Ultimately it is a very conversational, food-and-drink focused event.”

In recent months, during a Delta variant-fueled resurgence, South Carolina has become one of the worst hot spots in the country for COVID-19. On Sept. 9, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced 3,466 new cases of COVID-19 and 55 new deaths. On Sept. 8, the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control announced 2,997 new cases of COVID-19 and 25 deaths.

It's the second major event cancellation in Columbia this week. On Sept. 8, the popular Gervais Street Bridge Dinner was nixed due to COVID-19. Last month, Oktoberfest Columbia was canceled for the same reasons as well.

David Clarey joined Free Times in November 2019 as a food and news writer. He's constantly fighting competing desires to try cooking food at home and spending his entire paycheck on Columbia restaurants.

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