Creativity comes to a halt at Amarillo arts organisations - GulfToday

Creativity comes to a halt at Amarillo arts organisations


Members of the cast for the upcoming ALT Academy production of ‘Anne of Green Gables.’ Tribune News Service

Over the past week, the COVID-19 coronavirus has been affecting people around the world, as well as their businesses and their way of life. As of press time, six cases of the virus have been confirmed by the city of Amarillo, two from residents of Randall County, two from Castro County, one from Oldham County and one from Deaf Smith County. Arts organisations in the region have also been affected by the virus, having to cancel or postpone various scheduled events in the next few months.

The Amarillo Globe-News spoke with various representatives of these arts organisations in the area, and they spoke about how the virus is affecting them. In response to the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the city of Amarillo temporarily closed the Amarillo Civic Center Complex for all its gatherings and events, according to its website. Sherman Bass, the general manager of the complex, said as early as last week, the complex was open for business as usual.

“People could cancel or postpone or reschedule their events if they wanted to,” he said. “We would be very flexible with our policies about refunding deposits if they chose to self-cancel. A lot of things have happened in the last seven days that have led to where we are today.” If residents have tickets to events at the complex that are postponed, Bass said, they are encouraged to hold on to those tickets as when the events reschedule, the tickets will be valid. Bass said officials with the Amarillo Civic Center Complex are taking this a few weeks at a time.

“It’s fluid. Every day is changing, and if that period of time has to be extended, we will work it out with our lessees and who knows, maybe we will have a miracle and that period of time will shrink and things will improve rapidly,” Bass said. “We are prepared to ride it out as long as we have to and work with our clients to help reschedule events.”

Recently, the executive board of the Amarillo Little Theatre met and postponed the ALT Academy’s upcoming production of “Anne of Green Gables” tentatively to the end of April or the beginning of May, ALT Academy director Jason Crespin said. The theater also decided to postpone its upcoming main-stage production of “Matilda” to the fall of 2020. Crespin said he thought because “Anne of Green Gables” was in March, the theatre would still be able to host the production on its scheduled dates, with taking a few precautions due to the virus.


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“I feel like I was not even remotely ... it was going to go as quickly, or spread as quickly,” he said. “We kept watching it and seeing that things were going on, but I kept thinking, ‘We will be fine for ‘Anne of Green Gables.’” But once Broadway closed, that all changed. Crespin said the cast of “Anne of Green Gables” will take a two-week rehearsal hiatus and come back April 1 to see where the community is in regard to the virus.

“Our hope is that we can still provide a great, great escape and entertainment and be able to be a space for families to come together when this all is said and done,” Crespin said. The museum recently announced it will be temporarily closed “in light of recent information released by city, state and federal officials regarding COVID-19 in our area ... “ according to its website. Alex Gregory, the AMoA curator of art, said the museum previously had canceled all of its events and activities. The virus also impacted the museum’s exhibition schedule.

artist amarillo 2 The Amarillo Symphony. Tribune News Service

“The next one was the (Amarillo College and West Texas A&M University) show, the students and faculty show,” Gregory said. “WT told me, because they basically closed WT or extended spring break, that they wouldn’t be able to gather enough artwork from the students because the students wouldn’t be there.” Gregory said because of this closure, the museum is putting out content on their website, including activities and a virtual tour. Mary Jane Johnson, the general and artistic director of the Amarillo Opera, said she was waiting to see how the Amarillo Opera would be affected until there was a case in Amarillo. But after the Amarillo Symphony released their postponement notice, she knew it was time to postpone the opera’s upcoming performance of the Three Redneck Tenors.

The whole situation, including the action of postponing the show, makes Johnson’s stomach hurt, she said, as well as just seeing opera companies around the country having to go through the same thing.

“I called our Three Redneck Tenors and got an alternative date ... They were just so gracious,” she said. “We are just postponing, probably to July. It was a tough decision, but when I talked to Opera America, out of New York City ... when I heard all of the things the companies are going through ... they had to cancel productions, not pay their artists. It’s kind of an alarmist situation because percentage wise, we don’t have that many cases, so it was a tough call, but you have to do what other people are doing. ... Even though it breaks your heart, you have to make adjustments.”

The tentative date for the performance is July 10 at the Amarillo Country Club. Andrew Hay, the executive director of the Amarillo Symphony, said the symphony approached their postponement of its March “Hollywood Masters” concert with a position of optimism. With the city of Amarillo ordering postponements of events at the Civic Center Complex, the decision was easy for the symphony.

Through the process, Hay said the musicians were involved in the decision and were very open to what the symphony needed to do.

Tribune News Service

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