MONTREAL -- The hiss of spray paint cans will not be heard through downtown this August.

Under Pressure, the annual celebration of graffiti and urban culture usually draws huge crowds to watch the artists work, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the event to adopt some massive changes.

That's not to say there won't be any artwork this year, but to make sure physical distancing measures are being respected, much of it is being done in secret.

“We are doing a few walls but because of all the rules and not gathering crowds, we're not able to promote it,” said organizer Melissa Proietti. “If people know there's walls being painted, they'll want to go down and see it. To ensure people are wearing masks and social distancing and all that... The city is trying to do it all it can to make sure people are not enticed to go into crowds.”

For those who do want to witness the creation of artwork, Under Pressure, like many festivals of all types this year, is offering digital options. Artists will battle online, some are submitting videos from home and DJs will perform remote sets that can be watched via the Under Pressure website.

Coming up with the program as the COVID-19 pandemic developed was a process that required some creativity and is one that is ongoing, according to Proietti. This year's edition was supposed to be a celebration of the festival's twenty-fifth anniversary and the organizer said she and her team were still determined to make it a special one.

“What this has actually enabled us to do is think about Under Pressure's twenty-fifth anniversary as a year-long celebration instead of a weekend, as it has always been,” she said. “Thinking of launching Under Pressure's twenty-fifth with all these online conferences and workshops and different ways artists can participate, whether it's dance music or graffiti. At first, in March, when everyone was still reeling from the fact our whole world had been shut down because of the pandemic, you realize how important community is and the arts are to keeping people in a positive headspace. We realized how important it was to try and do something.”

Despite the challenges of the present, Proietti is already looking forward to the 2021 Under Pressure.

“I don't think it's too early to think about next year at all because I think that's what we're doing right now,” she said. “My hope is we'll be able to do conferences once a month because we're firm believers in knowledge sharing. Next year, because of the way the past six months have gone, it's really hard to even imagine what normal is. We're really hoping we can do an in-person event and cap things off with a really good celebration of a year-long retrospective of Under Pressure. The hope is we can see each other face-to-face in 2021.”

Under Pressure events are scheduled to continue until Aug. 9.