Local Arts Organizations Respond to Coronavirus

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The Newport Beach Film Festival at the Lido Theater during a past event. — Photo by Christopher Trela ©

By Christopher Trela | NB Indy

Cirque du Soleil at OC Fairgrounds: cancelled. Segerstrom Center musicals: cancelled. South Coast Rep plays: cancelled.

The Coronavirus is taking its toll on performing arts organizations across the country, including those in Orange County, and Newport Beach.

The largest arts event in our town is the Newport Beach Film Festival, one of the leading lifestyle film festivals in the United States. The event features nearly 350 films and 50,000 movie fans over eight days. This year’s festival was to take place April 23-30, but due to the COVID-19 virus, the Film Festival is rescheduling its programming to August 6-13.

“We are especially proud of the dedication, creativity and support of Festival staff, filmmakers and partners during this extremely challenging time. We look forward to hosting an amazing event in August,” said Gregg Schwenk, CEO and Co-Founder of the Newport Beach Film Festival.

Film Festival co-founder Todd Quartararo noted that they had most of the films for the festival locked in and they were preparing their catalog and getting their website ready, but were able to pivot on short notice and switch dates.

“Everyone has been incredibly supportive including sponsors and venues,” said Quartararo. “We are thrilled with the support we have been receiving from everyone.”

Quartararo said that the community can support the film festival by going online and buying passes.

“Support is really crucial at a time like this,” added Quartararo. “If we are not open we cannot make money and we have some expenses.”

Quartararo said that the Film Festival is making plans to host a mini film festival online. Details to come.

Visit NewportBeachFilmFest.com for more information.

John Wayne exhibit at Balboa Island Museum. Photo by Chris Trela

Another local arts organization, the Balboa Island Museum, is closing through at least March 31, according to information received from the museum.

“The health and safety of our visitors and staff has always been our top priority,” wrote the museum in an email. “Following the guidelines set forth by the State of California and the CDC, we have decided to close to the public” through March 31. Any changes and updates to programs or hours will be announced by email, on the Museum’s website, and through social media.

Puzzles for all ages and kid’s activity books are available at the museum for curbside pickup. Call 949-675-3952 to place an order. Chop online at BalboaIslandMuseum.org/shop.

The Museum did add that “we invite you to explore the Museum via our website, balboaislandmuseum.org, where you will find fascinating oral history accounts from current and former residents, plus other interesting facts about Balboa Island and Newport Beach.”

Laguna Playhouse logo

The Laguna Playhouse has also cancelled or postponed shows. The March 13 performance of “Barefoot In The Park” was the final one before bringing the curtain down.

“The Playhouse will remain closed to public gatherings until further notice, per the recommendation. We are grateful to all the artists and craftspeople who are impacted by these upheavals in their professional schedules,” wrote Playhouse Executive Director Ellen Richard and Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham in an email. “Although we are deeply saddened to have to make this decision, we know we are doing what we can to help halt this disease. And we take the responsibility to protect one another, our friends, our family, and community very seriously. We will continue to monitor the situation, and we wish to assure our supporters and our community that we will institute every possible measure to ensure the continuing health not only of our many constituencies, but also of this institution.”

The Laguna Playhouse is giving ticket holders the option of donating the price of their tickets to the organization.

“All donations are tax deductible and go a long way to ensure that we are able to present outstanding programming for years to come. The Laguna Playhouse has a small but mighty Box Office staff that is working hard to help all patrons in a timely manner. All ticket holders will receive an email and a phone call from the Box Office team with ticket options. We appreciate your support as this news unfolds, and look forward to the moment we can welcome you back at Laguna Playhouse. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding during these unprecedented times.”

South Coast Rep file photo

Newport Beach resident comprise a significant portion of South Coast Repertory’s audience base, and they recently received this email from SCR.

“South Coast Repertory is taking immediate proactive steps to ensure the well-being of our audience, artists and staff.” Cancelled productions include “Outside Mullingar,” “The Scarlet Letter,” “I Get Restless,” and “Pacific Playwrights Festival.” The theater was able to record a performance of “Outside Mullingar” before it closed, and is working on making that performance available online. Details to come.

All performances of the Junior Players production of “Snow White” are postponed until further notice, and spring session classes in the SCR Youth Theatre Conservatory and Adult Conservatory are postponed until the week of April 13.

Julianne and George Argyros Plaza at Segerstrom Center.
— Photo courtesy Segerstrom Center

Segerstrom Center for the Arts has also cancelled all performances through March due to COVID-19 concerns.

These engagements include “A Bronx Tale,” “Broadway Legends: An All-Star Tribute to Harold Prince (March 27), and Cécile McLorin Salvant and Aaron Diehl Trio (March 28). In addition, all free events on the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza are cancelled through March 31. Classes in the Center’s American Ballet Theatre William J. Gillespie School and School of Dance and Music for Children with Disabilities have also been canceled through March. The Center’s offices will remain open.

Center President Casey Reitz sent this email: “Our sole purpose is to share the best artistic, entertainment and educational experiences possible with everyone in our community, so it is with great regret that we must cancel performances and classes in the Center’s schools through March. But we are in an extraordinary situation and feel that the governor has made a wise decision. Right now, what is most important is to protect anyone who will pass through our doors – patrons, donors and artists, volunteers, students and employees. We are looking forward to a quick return to performances as usual and to welcoming everyone back to the Center.”

Patrons with tickets to canceled performances may exchange them for a gift certificate or credit that can be used at another time; donate the ticket to the Center and receive a tax deduction for the total value; or receive a refund for the value of the ticket.

For additional information and updates, the public is encouraged to visit SCFTA.org/See-a-Show/Covid-19-Preparedness.

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