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CS Report: How Coronavirus is Affecting Local Arts Organizations

Mar. 18, 2020 at 2:04PM

The Coronavirus (Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has forced local arts organizations to temporarily suspend operations to adhere to social distancing and flatten the curve (slowing the virus spread and thus, fewer people seeking treatment at any given time).

The Oriental Theatre is closed through April 9, 2020. 

Emma, Fantastic Fungi, and Parasite were playing at the time of close. “We are not sure what programming will look like when we reopen the Oriental Theatre,” said Milwaukee Film’s Marketing Director Karina Henderson. “Since this situation is extremely fluid and recommendations from local, state, and national officials are changing rapidly, we can't have firm answers right now on what will be on screen when we reopen.”

“We're doing short term planning to figure out our next steps, and we're doing longer term planning to determine what the impact might be for us,” Henderson added. “As we figure things out, we'll keep doing our best to share information with our community of loyal supporters.”

“In uncertain times, we can say one thing for certain: We will reopen the Oriental Theatre,” said Milwaukee Film in a statement. “Our community is strong, our organization is strong, and art goes on. We won’t stop being a part of what makes Milwaukee such an amazing place to live. We’ll miss you for the next few weeks, and we’ll keep you in our hearts as we all move forward.”

The Milwaukee Repertory Theater closed Chasin' Dem Blues one week early, Eclipsed performed for one week, and postponed Hootenanny: The Musicale and Antonio's Song: I Was Dreaming of a Son.

“On a personal note, having been in the arts most of my life in some capacity, my heart breaks for these artists that rely on performance to earn paychecks and benefits,” said Milwaukee Repertory Theater bartender Kristin Rydzik. “I am happy that the Rep was proactive and decisive about their decision to close, understanding it's an incredibly difficult decision to make.”

“Musicians and those in the performing arts are getting hit harder than people realize right now," said Chasin’ Dem Blues history consultant Angela M. Reilly. “I am thankful that those who were able to get to the performance did. It's an essential narrative that belongs in history books around the world.”

“The events stop, revenue stops, and people will struggle,” said arts patron Darryl Nitsch. “I’m trying to find the most impactful way to assist the people affected: donate the cost of our tickets and donate to groups helping people in the entertainment industry. It’s all about the people now.” 

"I'm disappointed the actors in Eclipsed were only able to perform the show for one week," said arts patron Frank Dragotta. "I'm so sad, but I also understand the caution."

Musicians are affected, alongside the performing arts. “Obviously, this is unexpected and I believe a temporary stall for entertainers,” said freelance jazz musician Marcya Daneille. “I’ll take each day as it comes.”

The Milwaukee Art Museum is tentatively opening on April 7, 2020 and resuming events on April 14, 2020. The museum is digitally sharing history, collection and art related topics. 

“We haven't made any determinations on updating dates yet, but are keeping a close eye as the Covid-19 situation develops and will reevaluate when necessary,” said Milwaukee Art Museum Public Relations Manager Josh Depenbrok. 

We must mitigate the unfortunate consequences due to the coronavirus pandemic via donating money to our artists, provide a tax deductible donation to the arts organizations, and more. 

To help local artists, click here.

About the author

Livia Peterson

Livia Peterson is an arts and entertainment writer, based in Milwaukee.