Due to Government Edicts all over the United States and the entire world, performing arts organizations have essentially been prevented from staging their symphony concerts, big-band jazz concerts, chamber music performances, and choral concerts, due to fears of spreading the Wuhan Coronavirus. They range from world-class orchestras like the Seattle Symphony, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, to stage plays on Broadway, to the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, and Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra. Smaller groups have smaller cash cushions to get them through half a season with no presentations. Groups have had to cancel needed fund-raising events like dinners and auctions, further reducing their available funds.
Many orchestras, especially the large ones like New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, have audiences that skew older. But even places that cater to younger audiences, like nightclubs and rock concerts, have been closed down. The venues themselves are in trouble, not having any ability to stage the events that keep them in business. Will arts organizations like this be forced to deny tickets to older people, “for their own good”?
What will the future look like for these arts groups and venues, when the government holds their future in its hands? Will a concert hall like the Kimmel Center Verizon Hall in Philadelphia, be able to stay in operation if its audiences are limited to 25% capacity? Will the Philadelphia Orchestra be able to continue under those circumstances? The Arts are a part of life that makes living worthwhile. Millions of people all over the world spend time watching and listening to music of all kinds. What happens when the “music stops”?
What will be the future of the Arts, if a vaccine against the Wuhan Coronavirus takes longer than anticipated to hit the market? Will Governments insist that there be no concerts, or performances, or plays for audiences larger than say 50 people? Will Arts organizations agree to commit suicide, because that is what they will be required to essentially do?
This spring and summer in Seattle, everything has been canceled. We are very unhappy that the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, the Northwest Chamber Chorus, and the Seattle Symphony, have all not been able to stage one concert. We are very sad that we will not have the wonderful experience of sitting in Benaroya Recital Hall listening to our favorite musicians play their sublime chamber music. They have even canceled the outdoor concert scheduled for August! And the Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration was also canceled, preventing Hubby’s band from performing.
We are very unhappy and depressed about what is going on, but if we are feeling that way, just think of what the musicians and the Festivals are going through right now. This is their livelihoods, and that hangs in the balance. People who make their living playing music need an audience, and those audience members need that music. We are not allowed to make our own decisions about whether to take the risk of being in the same room with the rest of the listeners and performers. Government has deemed that we not be allowed to attend concerts, because we might be infected.
Funny, but you don’t see concerts being canceled during flu season from October to March, in case someone might catch the flu from the person next to them. Flu kills thousands of people every year, but the world does not stop turning. I wonder what the ongoing effects of the Wuhan Coronavirus will be on the performing arts, that add such love and excitement to life. Will the organizations survive?