The coronavirus threat is wreaking havoc on Philadelphia’s spring arts season, with more disruptions likely in the coming days and weeks.
Many performances at the Annenberg Center have been called off to limit risk of exposure to the virus, the group announced Wednesday. The White Lama, in its world-premiere performances at the Annenberg on March 13 and 14, will go on. But after that, all events on the schedule through April 15 have been postponed. These include appearances by the Crossing Choir, Trinity Irish Dance Company, Daedalus Quartet, and Arcana New Music Ensemble.
Citing coronavirus concerns, BalletX has postponed its spring series performances, which had been scheduled to run March 18-29 at the Wilma Theater. The program of three world premieres, including one from its 2020 choreographic fellow Nicole Caruana, is now being planned for July.
“It’s gut-wrenching, we’ve been working for months to prepare this show,” said BalletX artistic and executive director Christine Cox. “The choreographers, the dancers, the designers have been putting their hearts and souls into this and it’s really difficult to postpone it.”
Ultimately, though, concerns over safety compelled her to make the change.
“I felt in our country we’ve been so slow to respond to this virus, it’s deeply concerning how little action we’re taking to prevent the spread of it. Sometimes we have to work together as a nation to keep ourselves safe," Cox said.
The Curtis Institute of Music has announced that it is curtailing and adjusting activities over the next few weeks. Audiences at concerts at the school between March 23 and 31 will be limited to Curtis students, staff, and faculty, but these concerts will be streamed live via YouTube and Facebook.
Curtis on Tour concerts in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and in the Detroit area between March 13 and 22 have been canceled, and auditions in violin, cello, and voice/opera have been scrapped.
Curtis expects that concerts from April 1 through the end of the semester will be reopened to live audiences, though the school cautioned that those plans may change.
There are currently no known cases of COVID-19 in the Curtis community, the school said in a statement signed by president and CEO Roberto Díaz.
“We are continually monitoring the situation, however, and have developed plans to respond if that changes. The health and well-being of our community are our highest priority, and we are carefully considering all options, including the possible suspension of operations.”
As of Wednesday, several arts groups were continuing with life as usual while keeping an eye on advice from public health agencies.
At the Kimmel Center — called home by eight of the city’s most visible arts groups, including the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Pennsylvania Ballet — performances are currently scheduled to go on as planned, a Kimmel spokesperson said.
Pennsylvania Ballet’s performances of La Bayadère are still slated for Thursday through Sunday at the Academy of Music. The company’s school will be closed Thursday as a precautionary measure for a deep cleaning of the studios, a spokesperson said. Normal schedules were expected to resume Friday.
All cultural institutions along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway remain open and operating under normal hours, officials said. All have instituted special cleaning of public areas, at the least, and all are paying close attention to directives from the CDC and state and local public health officials. Administrators at each institution said the same thing Wednesday: All plans could change instantly should government directives warrant it.
The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society sent a message to patrons Wednesday saying that its March concerts, which continue PCMS’s cycles of Beethoven piano sonatas and string quartets, are still on. “We will be monitoring the situation closely, however, and we are committed to following the directives of federal, state, and local officials,” the note said.
No Walnut Street Theatre performances have been canceled, a spokesperson there said. However, the theater was “paying close attention to school district closings in order to determine how best to proceed with upcoming WST for Kids performances,” he said.
The Annenberg Center’s statement said that performances of The White Lama will come with “extra measures to maintain a healthy environment for audiences, staff and artists, including bolstering housekeeping efforts and implementing new procedures for our ushers and concessions staff."
The center is working on setting new dates for all of the affected performances, though it is possible some will be canceled altogether, an Annenberg spokesperson said. The center is offering fee-free ticket exchanges to anyone feeling ill or concerned about attending. Information: 215-898-3900.
Elsewhere: At the University of Pennsylvania, which just extended its spring recess for a week and will shift classes online for the rest of the semester, arts institutions are remaining open but canceling some events. The Penn Museum has canceled its children’s sleepover events for March and April. Check the museum website for a full listing of cancellations and postponements.
Drexel and Temple art galleries remain open. At Drexel’s Pearlstein Gallery, however, a Drexel spokesperson said, “no public programming is taking place until further notice.” At Temple, which just announced that all classes will move online for the rest of the semester, it is uncertain whether the Temple Contemporary gallery will remain open past Friday, when the school’s in-person classes end.
The school of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has extended its spring break and postponed its continuing-education courses. Classes for students will be conducted remotely for at least two weeks, according to David Brigham, head of the art school and museum.
The PAFA museum will remain open for the time being, and special events will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, Brigham said. The PAFA website will carry detailed, updated information.