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COVID-19 and the Arts: With increased cleaning measures, the shows go on

COVID-19 and the Arts: With increased cleaning measures, the shows go on

Several local events have been cancelled, however
COVID-19 and the Arts: With increased cleaning measures, the shows go on
“We don’t just have an off-the-shelf plan,” said Joel Reed, above, executive director of Saratoga Arts, seen in a file photo.
Photographer: gazette file photo

The headlines about COVID-19 or the coronavirus have been nonstop lately.

“The Coronavirus claims its first Texas casualty: South by Southwest.” 

“Cycling and golf events canceled as coronavirus continues to hit sport.” 

“Scott Rudin slashes ticket prices to hit Broadway productions due to coronavirus.”  

As the virus has begun to impact the Capital Region, the arts and entertainment community is trying to keep up; balancing caution and commitment. 

In the last few days, several events have been canceled due to concerns about the virus. As of press time, the following events have been cancelled:

The Mac-n-Cheese Bowl on Saturday at Siena College has been cancelled.

At the Schenectady County Historical Society, Saturday’s presentation by former General Electric employee George Wise  on Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse was canceled.

Band leader Skip Parsons’ show that was scheduled for earlier this week at McGeary’s in Albany was also canceled because of the virus. 

The Troy Friends of Chamber Music season has been suspended, with hopes to reschedule over the summer. 

The New York State Museum in Albany has cancelled the “Women of Science” event on Saturday.

The Local Actors Guild of Saratoga has canceled its upcoming performances of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” at Saratoga Arts. Write the Vote, which is part of a national event, was postponed as well at Saratoga Arts. 

The arts center, which is located in the same county where two cases of coronavirus were confirmed over the weekend, is working on how to handle everything from programming to staffing to their gallery. The nonprofit has perhaps more variables to consider than other organizations because it hosts and organizes community events in public spaces. 

“We don’t just have an off-the-shelf plan,” said Joel Reed, the executive director of Saratoga Arts. “Even when you go to the official pages, their advice is to develop a plan. It’s not ‘Here’s your plan,’ it’s ‘We advise you to develop a plan.’ As everybody knows there’s safety considerations for the public and for staff and for artists and performers who would be performing to the public. There [are] financial considerations, if you’ve contracted with a performer or you, you’ve invested in plans for a concert or for a play, what do you do? Do you return tickets? Do you cancel your show? But you still have commitments to pay people and you’ve already incurred expenses.”

For now, many venues are increasing cleaning measures and sticking with their show schedules. 

“Things are still functioning normally around here,” said Carolyn Shapiro, the marketing manager of Caffe Lena. 

“I don’t know where we’ll be at in a week from now because these things are developing more and more [each] day. We’re just trying to be as cautious as we can and be very well aware of what’s going on. If it looks like things are getting more serious than we’ll definitely have to close down for a little bit. As of right now, we’re in a good place.” 

In terms of closing their doors, they plan to follow the direction of local schools. 

Proctors’ CEO Philip Morris said earlier this week there are no plans to cancel events. 

“At this point what we’re saying to ourselves and to the world is we want to be calm and be kind. To that end, like others, we are doing the extra cleaning. We’ve made available anti-bacterial wipes, antibacterial soaps, all over the properties,” Morris said. 

There is a concern that attendance might dip in the coming weeks, though Morris said Proctors has not yet noticed that. 

According to spokesperson Al Roney, Rivers Casino & Resort is not cancelling or postponing any events. 

“Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady takes great pride in the cleanliness and safety of our property every day. However, we are taking additional steps to mitigate the risks of coronavirus which include additional cleaning and sanitizing of gaming machines and tables, signage to educate guests and team members on precautions such as hand-washing, and the installation of additional hand sanitizing stations for our guests and team members.”

At miSci, “The Science and Wizardry of Harry Potter” will be held on Saturday. In a news release, the museum gave its position: “Our facilities will be fully operational and accessible for those who wish to attend. That said, we are closely monitoring the public health situation regarding the COVID-19 virus. We are practicing and communicating the processes and procedures outlined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).”

This upcoming weekend is a busy one for venues like The Parting Glass, which is not only celebrating St. Patrick’s Day but its 39th anniversary. So far, manager Linda DiBlasio said they don’t plan to cancel any of the events or performances on the lineup. While she’s heard customers discuss the virus, no one is panicking.  

“Everybody’s talking about it but I don’t see anybody panicking about it as of yet,” DiBlasio said. 

Note: If you’re planning to attend a public event (concert, theatrical performance, etc.), check with the organizers or the venue before you head out the door.

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