Stages have gone dark across the state.
“The show musn’t go on,” the Modern Times Theater wrote in a mass email postponing the remainder of its Saturday Storefront Trilogy puppet shows in St. Johnsbury until May.
During the last week, daily messages about COVID-19 social distancing have become the norm, with notifications of nearly everything temporarily closing, from sports to schools to entertainment. And the sentiment in each notification is the same: “We do not make this decision lightly and have taken this guidance from our local health department, Center for Disease Control, and World Health Organization.”
The arts in Vermont are on hold as well, in the wake of the coronavirus. In Rutland, the Paramount Theatre has closed its doors for the next five weeks, Weston Playhouse and Walker Farm have canceled all events through April 10; The Sparkle Barn in Wallingford is postponing March and April classes and events.
On Tuesday morning Chaffee Art Center Executive Director Sherri Birkheimer Rooker was working from home, looking at the scheduling calendar and trying to re-work dates for missed classes and exhibit openings during its closing. One of the exhibits scheduled was a student art show, which adds an extra layer since students are not in classes where they had been working on their art projects for the show.
“Our focus is on the community and keeping people safe and healthy,” Birkheimer Rooker said, and to that end the art center will be closed through March 22, and will reassess opening its doors at that time as updates on the virus continue.
In addition, Wonderfeet Kids Museum has closed its doors until April. Vermont Actors’ Repertory Theatre has postponed its spring production, called, ironically for the times, “The End of the World As We Know It,” by Vermont playwright Jeanne Beckwith. It was originally slated to open in April, now postponed until mid to late summer now that the virus has reached a pandemic.
Director Alex Nicosia said in an email, “We join other socially conscious businesses and organizations who are committed to protecting the health and safety of those in our communities and beyond by helping to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Any changes or additional cancellations will be posted to our website and social platforms.”
Rutland Free Library Director Randal Smathers said the library closed March 18.
“We are planning on reopening April 6,” he said. “The same as the schools. We will not be charging any fines during the interim and we’re setting all due dates back to April 20.”
As far as the impact of the closings on businesses, Smathers said, “It’s too soon to say. Our numbers have been up this year consistently, and obviously closing our doors is going to hurt.”
But one saving grace will be online options. “We have downloadable e-books, audio books, and streaming video on www.rutlandfree.org. We’ve added extra titles to that and we hope folks can find that and use those services.”
In the meantime, check the websites of your favorite arts organizations for online options and reopen dates.