Art organizations continue being affected by pandemic, some cancel or postpone shows

Pandemic Continues to Affect Local Arts

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the local art scene. On Wednesday, Circus Arts Conservatory announcing its cancelation of the 2021 Big Top season. The Van Wezel also announced they’re postponing one of their main shows.

“Yet another disappointment but we learned to roll with the punches,” said Mary Bensel, Executive Director for the Van Wezel.

This week, the Van Wezel postponed their first show on the main stage since March. Magician Reza’s “Edge of Illusion” was scheduled for Jan. 25th and was moved to Feb. 10th, 2022. Bensel said air purification units were supposed to be installed in the 1,700 seat hall as part of their safety measures.

“I don’t think it will make much of a difference but out of the abundance of caution we made the decision to postpone the show because this equipment won’t be here in time for that show in the main hall,” said Bensel.

Meanwhile, The Circus Arts Conservation canceled its Big Top season which includes Circus Sarasota, the Gala, and Cirque de Voix.

“The pandemic has certainly paralyzed much of our operations centered in performances,” said Jennifer Mitchell, Executive Vice President and COO of Circus Arts Conservatory. “Although we were able to successfully present the Sailors Circus Academy performances at the Christmas time, it became evident that there was still among all of our safety protocols and measures, a risk both financially and and for the safety of our cast.”

According to Mitchell, a Big Top season normally brings around $7 to $10 million to the organization and the area. It also attracts around 30,000 audience members.

“It’s a wide-spread impact, we’re going to miss our audiences,” she said.

In the meantime, the CAC will continue providing educational programs.

“Two of our magnet programs, one at Booker Middle School and one in Sarasota High School are vibrantly operating. We continue going into areas like k-12 schools with other circus arts programs,” said Mitchell.

Meanwhile, Sarasota Opera made a more positive announcement. The opera announced its 2021 Winter and Spring Festival.

“What we’ve done is split what normally is a four opera season in February and March with two shorter seasons, one in February and March, and one in April,” said Richard Russell, Executive Director for the Sarasota Opera.

He also said the opera will continue offering performances virtually.

“So far we’re doing okay, it’s difficult and challenging and we understand that a lot of our audiences don’t feel ready to come back to a performance,” said Russell. “These performances are socially distant but we’re also offering the ability to stream it online.”

Yet with all these changes, it’s still unknown when performances will be the same once again.

“I want to remind people that we’re here, but we’re empty and want to be back to normal,” said Bensel.

The Van Wezel will be announcing its new schedule for Cabaret and outdoor concerts soon, and they’re not the only ones. They Key Choral Chamber are coming back together this season for a chamber concert on Jan. 21.

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