The number of local arts events postponed by the current COVID-19 wave is growing

Jay Sullivan as “Puck” and James Black as “Bottom” in a 2016 Alley Theatre production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The company is postponing a new production, which would have premiered this month, to 2023 / photo by Lynn Lane

Since December, the U.S. has faced a wave of COVID-19 cases fueled by the omicron variant, impacting Houston arts groups during the holiday season and leading some to update their safety protocol.

As of this week, COVID-19 cases in Greater Houston reached a record high, with Harris County’s positivity rate surpassing 34%, and on Monday Judge Lina Hidalgo raised the county’s COVID threat level to “red” (severe).

According to reporting by Houston Public Media, hospital officials say that omicron leads to infections that are generally less severe than those of the delta variant. However, it is highly transmissible, and hospitalizations have surged: “Daily COVID hospitalizations at Texas Medical Center hospitals also saw record numbers last week, with an average of 497 a day. That’s up from an average of 68 daily COVID hospitalizations in December 2021.”

Under these current circumstances, some Houston arts organizations – or their partners – have decided to cancel, reschedule, or reimagine upcoming performances and events.

Here is a list of recent announcements, compiled by Houston Arts Journal:

ALLEY THEATRE

While its on-stage season is currently unaffected, the company is postponing its new touring series, Alley Transported, to 2023 “due to ongoing challenges with COVID-19 and in order to keep the cast, creative team, and community safe,” according to a press release.

Originally set to begin this month with a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Alley Transported is part of an NEA-funded initiative that aims to bring free, intimate performances of Shakespeare and other plays to neighborhood settings, community centers, and schools in order to foster a shared sense of community and a “transporting experience” of live theatre.

“I appreciate everyone’s understanding in this tough decision as well as all the hard work so many have already put toward making this a great show.  It will still be great – a year from now,” said Rob Melrose, Alley Theatre Artistic Director, in a statement.

BROADWAY AT THE HOBBY CENTER

When the January 4th opening night of Hadestown was canceled because of both COVID and non-COVID-related illnesses, the company was hopeful that the rest of the run through January 9th would resume. However, all remaining performances were eventually canceled because of breakthrough positive COVID cases within the show’s company. Hadestown has now been rescheduled for October 4 – 9, 2022.

CATASTROPHIC THEATRE

Catastrophic Theatre is postponing its production of Brian Jucha’s They Do Not Move to next season. The company released the following statement on January 4th:

We regret to inform you that Catastrophic’s upcoming production of Brian Jucha’s They Do Not Move, scheduled to perform February 11 through March 6, has been postponed until next season. 

They Do Not Move is an original work created entirely during the rehearsal process by the Catastrophic ensemble and Brian Jucha. With Covid-19 rapidly spreading across our city, we cannot safely and successfully create, rehearse, and perform this physically intimate piece of work. There is a strong likelihood that we will each come into contact with the Covid-19 virus in the weeks ahead. We don’t want our rehearsal process or production to become a super spreader event.

Thank you for your understanding. It breaks our hearts that we cannot bring They Do Not Move to you at this time. We are moving forward with the rest of our season, with the assumption that we will be in a better place in the spring.

The Catastrophic Theatre

FRESH ARTS

Fresh Arts, a nonprofit that provides resources and support to artists, announced this week that it has canceled its gala, The Unbelieve-A-Ball, originally scheduled for January 22nd.

While we were excited to be back together for the Unbelieve-a-Ball this month, our concerns for the safety and health of our community have to take precedence.

It is disappointing to announce that we will forgo the gala scheduled for Jan. 22 due to the recent Omicron spike.

Fresh Arts

In place of this year’s gala, Fresh Arts will now hold a reimagined Gala Auction, January 22 – 29.

“The Girl” by Tony Paraná, one of the artworks that will be featured in Fresh Arts’ 2022 Gala Auction / image courtesy of Fresh Arts

According to Fresh Arts’ public relations partner Like Minds: “Galas account for a crucial 15-20% of the nonprofit’s revenue,” which is why the organization is moving forward with its fundraising through the auction –whose proceeds will support Fresh Arts and local artists.

In an email with Houston Arts Journal, Like Minds shared more about the Gala Auction:

“A So Unbelievable Auction Pop Up” will be a hybrid fundraiser where art aficionados can browse and bid on 50+ works of art and one-of-a-kind experience packages in all price ranges.

Those who wish to bid on the auction items can do so either online or in-person at participating exhibit spaces around the city, such as Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company, MKT Bar at Phoenicia Downtown, and the Arts District Houston Welcome Center at Winter Street Studios. More locations to be announced soon!

Art from local artists such as Outspoken Bean, Tony Paraná, Renee Victor, and more will be featured in the auction.

Founded in 2001, Fresh Arts also plans to host a 20th Birthday Party later this year “when it is safe to do so,” according to its website.

HOUSTON EARLY MUSIC

Houston Early Music, a presenter of historically informed performances of music from the Medieval through Classical periods, is postponing its January 22nd concert by Sante Fe-based Severall Friends to next season. The organization released the following statement this week:

Houston Early Music regrets to announce the cancelation of its Jan. 22 concert, The Shadow of Night: Mysticism and Magic in Renaissance Music, by Severall Friends. While Severall Friends was forced to cancel their performance because of COVID-19, the early music consortium is working with HEM to reschedule the concert for the 2022-2023 season. For information about ticket refunds, email info@houstonarlymusic.org, or call 713-325-5377.

Houston Early Music

ROCO

ROCO canceled its concert, Beer and Brass, on January 13th and has since rescheduled it to April 6th.

The annual family-friendly event features the ROCO Brass Quintet at Saint Arnold Brewing Company, with performances of traditional beer hall music and brass arrangements, along with craft beer, root beer, and food.

You can find COVID safety protocol for each arts organization on their respective websites.

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