This was all going to be different. But then the deluge began. So, instead of reading about Classical Ballet of Mobile’s brand-new interpretation of a hallowed book, we’re sifting through the cultural entities that fell prey to a virus.
“Our board voted unanimously to postpone ‘The Secret Garden’ in light of all the fears about the coronavirus,” Classical Ballet of Mobile Academy Director Pamela Thompson said in voicemail.
It was originally scheduled for March 28. They are shooting for May 16 and 17 as replacement dates but acknowledged current uncertainty.
“We’re trying to keep the [ballet] school open right now and the schools are emptying pretty quickly, we’re told,” Thompson said.
Mobile Ballet is in the same boat. They postponed their March 21 and 22 production of “Beauty and the Beast” and are working with the Mobile Civic Center on rescheduling.
“If we cancelled, we would take a huge financial hit. It’s a brand-new production and a lot has gone into it, including having a guest artist in town for a month, brand-new costumes and sets. It’s just mind-boggling actually, the financial impact,” Mobile Ballet office manager Kendra Utsey said.
Mobile Ballet is also suspending classes for two and a half weeks. Faculty will still be paid.
The Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival, scheduled for March 20 to 22, was canceled.
Mobile Opera has cancelled their March 27 and 29 performance of “Le Rondine.” Some chorus members are enrolled at now-closed schools. Others are teachers now focused on workshops for teaching online courses for the suspension’s duration.
“We tried. We wanted to bring this beautiful opera to life but now is just not the time. Maybe we can remount it in the future, but we can’t go forward now,” Mobile Opera General Director Scott Wright said.
Alabama Contemporary Art Center (ACAC) has suspended evening programming through the end of March. Last communication was their regular gallery hours of Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., will remain.
“Art museums like ours are low-contact environments where the experience is largely visual, rather than reliant on touch,” ACAC said in a statement.
ACAC intends to resume evening programming in April, but that is subject to change.
Understandably, ACAC Executive Director Elizabet Elliott was crestfallen. She noted an upcoming board of directors meeting will be held through Zoom video conferencing.
The Mobile Museum of Art (MMoA) wasn’t as lucky. As of Friday, March 13, they intended to cease evening programming while remaining open during the day. When a COVID-19 case was confirmed in Baldwin County, the mayor’s office issued a March 14 statement closing MMoA along with GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico, Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center, History Museum of Mobile and Mobile Botanical Gardens until April 6. Their schedule will be reassessed at that time.
Considering the contact-heavy children’s exhibit at MMoA, the closure makes complete sense.
The April 3 Griot Award ceremony honoring the Excelsior Band, previously scheduled for April 3 at the History Museum of Mobile, is postponed. The Dora Franklin Finley African American Heritage Trail tours have been suspended until further notice.
“We wiped down and disinfected the coach yesterday,” Trail President Karlos Finley said. “We’re just going to have to take this as it comes, at the mercy of this virus.”
As of Sunday, March 15, the Mobile Public Library will remain open, but the 2020 Mobile Literary Festival scheduled for March 21 at the Ben May Main Library has been canceled.
The Mystic Order of the Jazz Obsessed (MOJO) has postponed its March 23 Jazz Jambalaya featuring keyboardist Gino Rosaria. It will be rescheduled for later this year, pending further COVID-19 developments.
The Mobile Arts Council (MAC) has postponed their April 5 Taco Takedown in Cathedral Square. The culinary contest funds their community arts programs, which direly need the influx of funds.
“We only have a few thousand dollars right now, so we need it,” MAC Director Lucy Gafford said.
Their biennial “Five” art competition between five local colleges is supposed to take place in April. That might be endangered.
“We don’t know who will be able to participate because of school closures,” Gafford said.
The fate of the next ArtWalk, delayed from April 10 to April 17 to avoid Good Friday and synchronize with the SouthSounds festival, is uncertain. Most of it will depend on decisions made toward March’s end but SouthSounds has already announced plans to postpone.
Then there’s a staffing complication.
“[Program Coordinator Amber Swain] is in California now. We hope she can get back,” Gafford said, laughing nervously.
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