An uptick in breakthrough COVID-19 cases is taking a toll on the arts community. From Broadway to the Denver metro area, venues are canceling or postponing performances almost every day.
After months of preparation, the cast and crew of “Elf: The Musical” was prepared to wow crowds at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities throughout a final stretch of sold-out shows, but Thursday, COVID-19 quite literally stole the show.
“It really was the only choice we had,” said Philip Sneed, president, and CEO.
Late last week, the Arvada Center decided to cancel the final nine performances of the musical after 14 cast members, all of whom were vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19. According to Sneed, those individuals are currently quarantining.
“A number of the out-of-town actors are going to miss the holidays with their families because they’re going to be stuck here in quarantine,” Sneed said.
The Arvada Center is among many arts venues around the country struggling with a rise in COVID-19 cases. In New York, the Rockettes and Broadway shows have called off performances, and this week the Denver Center for the Performing Arts announced it was canceling performances of “The Lion King” at The Buell Theatre.
“Holiday production revenue is really important for theaters, for ballet, for all performing arts organizations,” Sneed said.
According to Sneed, his cancellations could lead to a loss of ticket revenue just under $250,000. Luckily, in the last year, they’ve received a lot of financial help from federal programs, such as the Paycheck Protection Program and the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant.
“So, this amount, although unfortunate, is not going to cause us to cut budget or lay off staff or do salary reductions of furloughs,” he said.
What it will do is add more uncertainty into the mix for one of the hardest-hit industries by this pandemic. Sneed said he’s hopeful the Arvada Center will be able to put on the shows scheduled for next month.
“Of course, we hope things get better, but there aren’t any good reasons that things are going to get better by mid-January,” Sneed said. “I think everybody thinks it’s likely to get worse.”
Anyone who bought a ticket to “Elf” can get a full refund or donate the cost of their ticket to the Arvada Center.
When shows were canceled early in the pandemic, patrons donated several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of tickets to the venue, though Sneed does not expect that kind of response this time.