I’ve written an essay for the weekend Wall Street Journal that minces no words: the coronavirus pandemic is already a disaster for the performing arts in America, and things will get worse. Here’s an excerpt.
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Of all the bad tidings brought by the coronavirus, here’s the scariest piece of news for lovers of the performing arts: The Metropolitan Opera is canceling the rest of its current season—and furloughing its orchestra members, choristers, dancers and stagehands. That reportedly comes to more than 500 people….
The Met is America’s largest performing arts organization. While it’s weathered severe budgetary problems in recent seasons, it’s successfully dealt with all of them—until now. As a result of the social-distancing lockdown in New York caused by Covid-19, the Met is staring down losses of up to $60 million. That’s a hit the company can’t survive without drastic measures in response….
What’s happening at the Met is happening at every performing-arts organization I know of, large and small alike. Opera, orchestras, dance companies, theater troupes, nightclubs: All have seen their revenues collapse overnight. And unlike the Met, which has a $300 million endowment, most of them have next to nothing in the bank to see them through the crisis….
I’m hearing much the same thing from coast to coast, though the institutional damage done by the coronavirus looks at first glance to be especially devastating to theater. Even the biggest regional theaters have either laid off staff or are days away from doing so…..
* * *Read the whole thing here.