As Manitoba has recorded its first presumptive case of COVID-19 and large public gatherings are being cancelled all over the world, the show will go on at many of Winnipeg's venues — for now.
The National Hockey League has pressed pause with just three weeks of games remaining in the regular season, grounding the Jets. And the concert schedule at Bell MTS Place will likely be impacted by the pandemic.
"We will work with each promoter on a case-by-case basis," Kevin Donnelly, vice-president of venues and entertainment for True North Sports and Entertainment, told a press conference Thursday.
This weekend's Disney On Ice performances at Bell MTS Place have been cancelled. Ticketmaster will automatically provide refunds to the purchasing credit card or at point of purchase.
The Glorious Sons concert scheduled for March 21 at the downtown arena has been postponed. Tickets will honoured for the new date and refunds will be available at point of purchase.
As far as other future live events go, "we do expect date changes," Donnelly said, emphasizing the situation is constantly evolving.
In a statement, Live Nation, the world's largest concert promoter, says it is recommending that large-scale events be postponed through the end of March and that small-scale events follow "guidance set by their local government officials."
Beep, a touring children's show from Australia scheduled to play at Manitoba Theatre for Young People March 20-29, has been cancelled. Adelaide's The Windmill Theatre Company announced it had cancelled the remainder of its North American tour.
MTYP is offering refunds or exchanges into upcoming Spelling 2-5-5 shows (May 1-10) or credits towards tickets for the 2020-21 season.
"We are monitoring information from provincial and federal health agencies closely on updates to COVID-19," said Kerri Potter, MTYP's school and tour sales co-ordinator.
"At this time, MTYP is maintaining all of its other programming, including Theatre School and Native Youth Theatre classes and productions, our touring activity for Spelling 2-5-5 and the upcoming mainstage presentations of the same."
At most other venues in Winnipeg, shows are going on as scheduled.
"At this point, performances and events at Royal MTC are not cancelled," theatre publicist Kathleen Cerrer said via email. "Should that change, we will be reaching out to our audiences by email and phone, and providing updates on our website. We’ve also offered audience members the opportunity to exchange their tickets for March performances if they are feeling unwell."
The company has two performances of Women of the Fur Trade scheduled at the Tom Hendry Warehouse Friday and Saturday and is set to open A Thousand Splendid Suns next Wednesday.
Prairie Theatre Exchange performances are also going ahead as scheduled. By Grand Central Station runs until March 29. PTE will update patrons via email, social media and its website if necessary and is encouraging patrons, staff, artists and volunteers to stay home if they feel unwell. Ticket exchanges are free for subscribers, and PTE is currently waiving exchange fees for all single-ticket buyers.
On Thursday morning, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra said performances of Troupe Vertigo, a circus-dance-theatre show running Friday to Sunday, were still a go.
"Currently our weekend concerts are still scheduled," said Brent Phillips, the symphony’s vice-president of marketing and communications. "We are continuing to monitor the situation very closely as new information is available to us from the government and health officials."
In an online statement, the Centennial Concert Hall — home to the WSO, Manitoba Opera and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet — stated that all upcoming shows will take the stage as planned and that staff are cleaning public spaces within the building more frequently. Hand sanitizer will also be made available to patrons and there will be additional signage posted within the hall to inform the public of personal measures to minimize the spread of this virus.
Movie screenings at Cineplex theatres in Winnipeg have not been affected.
"We continue to follow the lead of Canadian public health authorities regarding the development and execution of our response at our theatre network, entertainment venues and corporate offices across the country," said Sarah Van Lange, Cineplex's executive director of communications, adding that company has introduced "enhanced cleaning protocols in all of our buildings."
In a statement posted to its website, the Winnipeg Folk Festival assured ticketholders it is "closely monitoring" the situation.
The latest updates on the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.
"We are four months away from the festival and will be communicating regularly with artists, volunteers, colleagues, stakeholders and health authorities to ensure we plan for a safe event for all."
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights has no immediate plans to close any of its exhibits or galleries and is reviewing whether it will host public programming over spring break, staff told the Free Press via email.
Like other venues, the West End Cultural Centre will remain open and is increasing its cleaning and sanitizing efforts. All refund requests will be honoured and venue management will be working with private event organizers on a case-by-case basis, an emailed statement said.
— with a file from Randall King
Eva Wasney Arts Reporter
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Concerns over the rapidly spreading coronavirus, amplified by this week's official pandemic declaration by the World Health Organization, have resulted in the cancellation or postponement of major cultural events across North America:
• The 49th Juno Awards and several associated activities, which were to take place this weekend in Saskatoon.
• The Canadian Screen Awards, scheduled for later this month in Toronto, along with Canadian Screen Week events in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
• The massive, annual South by Southwest music, film and interactive media conference in Austin, Texas.
• The Coachella music festival in Indio, Calif., has been postponed until October.
• Several major touring music acts have pre-emptively cancelled or postponed tours, including Pearl Jam, My Chemical Romance and Zac Brown Band. Wilco, who performed in Winnipeg Wednesday, announced upcoming dates in Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, Las Vegas and California have been postponed.
• In New York City, Broadway theatres have suspended performances through April 12.