TULSA — The entertainment and arts industry - an economy solely driven by large gatherings of people - is at a standstill amid closures from the coronavirus.
Artistic Director of Theatre Tulsa Sara Phoenix said, “The arts are so critical for our humanity, and right now, we need them more than ever. We’re unable to provide them for people when they need it the most.”
Theatre Tulsa is just one of the many local arts organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Phoenix explained, “Right now, we have three shows in various stages of production, one that opened and closed just last weekend after one performance, and classes with kids, and all of that is on hold.
This comes after Mayor GT Bynum took the advise of the CDC guidelines and restricted gatherings of 50 people or more in city facilities. The Tulsa Performing Arts Center still falls under that category even though it is privately operated.
Phoenix went on to say her organization has put in a lot of financial resources to the productions and heavily relies on ticket sales to recoup the costs.
Theatre Tulsa is just a handful of productions with one local company. There are now dozens of performances of concerts, ballets, plays, even Broadway tours in jeopardy of not happening on time.
Mark Frie, CEO of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center said, “Our calendar is a living, breathing thing that we work three, four, or five years out. The longer we’re closed, the more difficult it will be to find dates to make these shows up.”
That includes shows like a sold out Tulsa Symphony concert of Star Wars that had to be been postponed. Frie said his staff is looking at other available dates for the 2,400 ticket holders, explaining, “Part of it’s going to be dictated by a Broadway touring schedule – if their schedule can mesh with what our open dates are.”
But the theater seats will stay empty and the stages will remain bare for the foreseeable future.
“Right now, it’s like nailing Jell-O to a wall because we just don’t know when we’re going to be back open for business,” Frie said.
And it’s not just taking a financial and logistical toll on the arts community. Phoenix said, “As artists, we pour our heart and soul into what we’re working on. Being able to share that with the community is one of the huge rewards of what we do. So, to watch a cast or group of kids who are working on something have that taken away from them is devastating.”
Frie also says if you have a ticket to an event that was postponed and the alternate date doesn’t work for you, the PAC will work with you on getting that taken care of.
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