It’s hard to imagine our arts venues emptying out, operating at half mast, or going dark completely, even in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. And yet, many have. Broadway theaters shuttered on Thursday night, and beginning Friday at 5PM, an indefinite ban on gatherings of more than 500 people will take effect.
Meanwhile, many of our beloved downtown and Brooklyn cultural venues are torn about how to proceed. House of Yes, which has a capacity over 500, is complying with the city’s regulations in a mournful tone: “Tonight will be our last dance,” they confirmed in an emailed statement on Thursday, “[Friday] & Saturday will be our last theatre shows, and both will operate at half capacity.” Joe’s Pub and the Public closed along with Broadway, as did New York Theatre Workshop.
Other venues—like The Bell House and Littlefield—remain open, but are contending with postponements and cancellations (in a statement regarding the outbreak, Littlefield wrote: “Please be safe, be smart, be conscientious, and know that we are here to provide the community with entertainment as we have for over 10 years.”) After deliberation, National Sawdust announced today that it would suspend all programming through the end of April, and Nitehawk also announced the suspension of all programming at both locations. “We didn’t want it to come to this,” they tweeted on Friday, and said they made the decision only “after much deliberation.”
Some of the smaller venues (which will, undoubtedly, be hardest hit by shutterings or sharp declines in ticket sales) are looking to one another as the situation continues to change. “Everyone is struggling with the same issues,” said Kate Downey, creative director and co-founder of Caveat, over the phone. “We’re being cautious and gathering as much info as we can, and we’re looking to [other] venues…talking to the folks we know, and as a community, making decisions that are best.”
This evening, after publication of this article, Caveat announced that it would close until further notice. At publication time this afternoon, it had planned to remain open, with Downey saying that they may shift to some digital programming. That would have included a live stream of “Doctors Without Boundaries,” their regular comedy show hosted by two actual ER doctors—that’s important both for providing patrons with information about staying safe, and for offering some much-needed levity. “It’s very easy for it to feel like the end of the world,” Downey said. “But we’re hoping to put it into context, find the humanity and the humor, even if it’s dark. There’s always humor there.”
If you’re looking for some context and some lightness between hand-washings, below is a round-up of venue policies, as of Friday March 13th (a reminder, whenever you’re out and about: please follow a venue’s health and safety guidelines, and take care of one another).
- Alamo Drafthouse remains open, with reduced capacity (they’ll be placing “buffer” seats on either side of purchased seats)
- Angelika Film Center remains open, with reduced seat count
- Anthology Film Archives has postponed programming for the rest of the month
- The Bell House remains open, with some event cancellations (check site)
- BAM has suspended all live programming through March 29, and BAM Rose Cinemas will operate at 50% capacity
- Brooklyn Steel will close until further notice
- Caveat is closed until further notice
- City Cinemas are remaining open with reduced capacity
- Comedy Cellar remains open
- Film at Lincoln Center has suspended all screenings
- The Guggenheim Museum is closed until further notice
- House of Yes will shut down all events following this weekend
- IFC Center remains open, with reduced seat count
- Joe’s Pub (along with The Public Theater) will be cancelling performances through April 12th
- Kings Theater has suspended all performances until further notice
- Le Poisson Rouge has cancelled this weekend’s events (check back with them on this month’s remaining events)
- Littlefield remains open, with some event cancellations (check site)
- Metropolitan Museum is closed until further notice
- MoMA and MoMA PS1 are closed through March 30
- Music Hall of Williamsburg will close until further notice
- National Sawdust has suspended programming through the end of April.
- Nitehawk will suspend all programming at both locations until further notice
- New York Theatre Workshop will suspend public programming for 31 days
- Rockwood Music Hall remains open
- Rooftop Films is postponing all screenings for the month of March
- The Shed is suspending its exhibitions and performances through March 30
- Terminal 5 will close until further notice
- Triskelion Arts has cancelled this weekend’s events (check back with them on other upcoming events)
- Union Hall remains open, with some event cancellations (check site)
- Webster Hall will close until further notice
Update: The original version of this post was revised to update the status of National Sawdust and Caveat.