Feeling the impact from coronavirus concerns, performing arts venues in and around Boston are loosening their ticket refund policies, disinfecting theaters and concert halls and, in some cases, closing their doors.
The Sanders Theatre at Harvard University closed for now, and the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall is no longer open to the public at large, only to its campus community of students, faculty and staff. The music school will now live-stream its concerts online.
The Huntington Theater Company and SpeakEasy Stage Company are remaining open and announced this week stepped-up efforts to clean their public spaces and seating and a more lenient policy that waives fees for people who want to return unused tickets.
The Huntington Theater’s notice Tuesday came with this warning to theatergoers: “If someone in the theatre is presenting symptoms, they will be respectfully asked to leave the premises.”
These actions by the arts community come as the number of coronavirus cases in the state has risen to 92. Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency Tuesday and Boston Mayor Marty Walshcanceled the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and said officials are now weighing what to do about the April 20 Boston Marathon.
Catherine Peterson, executive director of Arts Boston, said that it’s too soon to assess how the coronavirus fears are going to affect the finances of the 180 arts and culture organizations it represents. But she said the economic stakes are high.
“Arts and culture are big business in Greater Boston, a $2 billion industry every year with an almost 30,000-person workforce. That's almost big as our retail sector. So, we have a significant impact,” she said Tuesday. “We'll be communicating that with the foundations, government, corporations and individuals who realize that the arts are such an integral part of Boston's community.”
Peterson said that she is more concerned about the region’s smaller nonprofits that don’t have endowments or cash reserves to help them survive what could be a downturn in attendance and performances.