COVID-19 arts update: Fresno Art Museum temporarily closed, April/May ArtHop canceled

UPDATES: Pretty much everything that involves an event or non-essential activity or business appears to be canceled. Scroll down to find Tuesday updates, including the Fresno Arts Council canceling the next two ArtHops and the Fresno Art Museum shutting down temporarily. Fresno State has canceled all in-person classes through the end of the semester; it is hard to imagine any of the performing arts (theater, music or dance) from taking place as scheduled.

A reminder: Local calendar-meister Brad Riley, whose indispensable website, Central Cal Local Music Ensembles List, helps keep fans up to date on the plethora of music offerings available, is keeping close track of cancellations. He’ll be updating at least daily.

As concern over the COVID-19 virus intensifies, the latest concert to fall victim is the Fresno Philharmonic’s chamber music event scheduled for Thursday, March 12, at the Fresno Art Museum.

Pictured above: The Wheel of Fate wasn’t kind to Fresno State’s planned three-day presentation of ‘Carmina Burana.’

I received word a few minutes ago from Stephen Wilson, the orchestra’s CEO, that the concert — titled “Proxima: Music for the Next Century” — is off.

It was conceived as an intimate event in the museum, with a seating capacity of less than 100, and featuring seven musicians. Rei Hotoda, the Fresno Philharmonic’s music director, had been slated to be the host and conductor. Even though the concert would have been smaller than the larger gatherings recommended for closure by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the orchestra decided to cancel for cautionary reasons.

There’s still no word on the fate of the orchestra’s big upcoming pops concert featuring the Pink Martini ensemble, which is scheduled for March 21.


The Proxima cancellation comes one day after the Fresno Master Chorale announced it was postponing its big spring concert, scheduled for March 29, because of coronavirus concerns.

I have inquiries out to Fresno State, Fresno City College and other arts organizations for word on other cancellations. I’ll be updating this post as I learn more.

UPDATE 11:45 a.m.: Fresno State’s big “Carmina Burana” concert, which was scheduled to open Friday, is canceled as well because of concerns about the coronavirus. Tickets purchased online will be automatically refunded. Those who purchased tickets in-person should call the Music Department at 559-278-2654 for a refund.

I also checked in with the Rogue Festival, which is preparing to head full-steam into its second and busiest weekend tonight. As of now, the festival is on, but the board is convening this afternoon to make a decision whether the event should continue.

My guess is that on a local level, we’ve reached a critical point in the coronavirus crisis in which all public events will be shut down. (And if the Rogue Festival throws in the towel, I think that’ll be a sign we’re all headed for Netflix oblivion.)

Gavin Katigbak would have played at Sunday’s Fresno Community Concert Band performance.

UPDATE 2:20 p.m.: The Fresno Community Concert Band is canceling its Sunday concert, titled “Music for All,” along with its April 5 concert. The ensemble hopes to meet up again in mid-April to prepare for its Memorial Day concert, conductor Bruce Weinberger tells me.

This is a major disappointment for me. I’d prepared an interview with Weinberger as a preview story for Sunday’s concert, which would have featured at least three “new musicians” — special-needs high school students — who were going to play with the concert band on three special songs. One of those students, Gavin Katigbak, a former student of Weinberger’s at Sierra High School, had planned to play triangle and suspended cymbals at the concert. Those happened to be the percussion instruments that Weinberger, who took over as solo conductor this season, used to play in the concert band.

“I can empathize with his — and my — need to get every note and sound just right,” Weinberger told me. “For the audience, you just hit the thing with a metal stick, but for Gavin and myself, that ‘thing’ is just as important as the most melodic instrument in the band.”

I didn’t get to use a photo of Gavin with a preview, but I wanted to make sure he got onto The Munro Review anyway (see above).

UPDATE 4 p.m.: The Rogue Festival is still on — at least for Thursday evening. Here’s the statement from the festival’s board:

“The Rogue Festival is committed to completing the remaining three days of performances if possible, but we are evaluating the situation on a day-by-day basis. Thursday evening performances will continue as scheduled. We advise all persons who are feeling ill, are elderly, or have compromised immune systems to stay home. Our festival volunteers are cleaning surfaces in our venues and maintaining hand-washing and hand-sanitizing hygiene. Any change to our Festival schedule will be announced on our website, via Facebook and Twitter, and in our e-newsletters by 2 p.m. Friday and noon on Saturday.

In addition, here are updates for specific shows:

• Hope Lafferty, “Inhibitionist(!)”: Final show at 1:45 pm on March 14 is canceled and replaced with James Sundquist, “Mingalaba.”

• Smiley Calderon, “So Why Did I Move To Fresno? I’m Glad You Asked.” All remaining performances canceled.

• Katherine Glover, “Faster.” at Hart’s Haven, is canceled.

• John Michael, “It’s Not All About You, John Michael.” All remaining performances canceled.

• Dana Merwin, “The Skinny Show.” All remaining performances canceled.

• Beth McLaughlin, “Silenced.” All remaining performances canceled.

• Benjamin Boone’s World Band concerts. All remaining performances canceled.

• Aerial Arts Fresno: All remaining performances canceled.

Another update: Here’s the Rogue’s Friday announcement. More individual shows have canceled, but the festival remains open with a number of shows still performing.

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.: Now it’s Pink Martini’s turn to succumb — or, at least, be postponed — by the virus. The Fresno Philharmonic this morning canceled its “Proxima” chamber music concert, and this afternoon, it confirmed that its March 21 concert, featuring the very hip Pink Martini ensemble, will be moved to an as yet undetermined date. Here’s what CEO Stephen Wilson has to say: “The Fresno Philharmonic is committed to acting responsibly and in the best interest of our patrons, employees and community as we confront the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The orchestra will also miss out on the big Pink Martini fundraiser that was planned before the concert.

Good Company Players

Jacob Phelen and Steve Souza in ‘Something Rotten!’

UPDATE 6:15 p.m.: Good Company Players is still playing. (That doesn’t surprise me. These dedicated theater veterans are so steeped in “the show must go on” work ethic that they might just play through a Bubonic plague, a frequent reference in the current production of “Something Rotten!”) Here’s GCP’s statement on Facebook:

“We wanted to reach out to our wonderful customers regarding the current COVID-19 outbreak. The Governor of California has urged the cancellation of all events with more than 250 people in attendance, recommended that individuals be spaced apart, and patron numbers limited dramatically for “at-risk” groups. Your safety is of the utmost importance to us during this uncertain time. We are taking extra precautions to keep our theaters disinfected, limit customer contact, and maintain patron numbers below 250 to allow for more space within the theatre. Until further notice, we will remain open. That said, we want to give you the opportunity to reschedule your reservation if you are feeling at all unwell, have any concerns, or find yourself in an “at-risk” group for the virus. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by calling the Box Office at 559-266-9494.”

This is the final weekend for the wonderful “Rotten.”

UPDATE 9 a.m. FRIDAY: At Fresno Pacific University, the following events are postponed (but not canceled):

• Symphonic Band Concert, March 17.
• Pacific Artist Series V: Compositions of Faculty Emeritus Larry Warkentin, March 22.
• “An Artistic Tribute: Celebrating 75 Years in Music, Art and Poetry,” March 26.

UPDATE 9:15 a.m. FRIDAY: Fresno City College’s music department offered this update regarding Friday’s big choral concert:

UPDATE 10 a.m. FRIDAY: I’ve found another event that is still going forward. Fresno Filmworks is continuing with its screening Friday night of “When We Danced.” Sirley Carballo, communications director for Fresno Filmworks, told me this morning:

“As of this morning, yes, it is still on tonight. We are taking extra precautions tonight and will have sanitizing products for our guests and extra cleaning supplies on hand to wipe down commonly touched areas throughout the night.”

There is no word on next month’s screening.

UPDATE 3 p.m. FRIDAY: Fresno State’s production of “Detroit ’67,” set to be directed by Thomas-Whit Ellis, has been canceled. It had been scheduled to run March 20-28. Here’s a statement from the theater department:

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the cancellation of all public performances of ‘Detroit ’67.’

“Due to the current COVID-19 situation, we are following evolving guidance from the CSU Chancellor’s Office, as well as state and local public health agencies. Given that many people are concerned about attending large gatherings right now, we felt it was prudent to cancel all public performances. We appreciate everyone’s understanding of this situation as we try and work through the situation under the guidance of the CSU leadership.

“Ticket refunds will be issued to those who purchased via credit card within the next week. If you purchased tickets with cash or check please call the box office at 559.278.2216, visit the box office in the Speech Arts building M-F between 12pm-4pm, or email”

UPDATE 3:15 p.m. FRIDAY: San Joaquin Valley Town Hall has canceled its next lecture, Paul Hessburg’s “How Do You Want Your Smoke?” It was scheduled to be held at the Saroyan Theater, Wednesday, March 18.

The cancellation wave extends into April. The Fresno Art Museum is postponing its popular “Trashique” fashion show and fundraiser (above), a significant revenue source for the museum. It had been scheduled for April 4 at the Fresno County Fairgrounds. An alternative date will be looked at for the fall. Man, we are going to have a busy fall. I hope.

UPDATE 12:30 p.m. SUNDAY: My colleague Joshua Tehee at The Bee reports that Danzantes Unidos canceled this year’s Danzantes Unidos Festival. “The annual gathering of folklorico artists was slated for April 3-5 at Roosevelt High School. More than 800 performers from 40 folklorico companies were expected to attend.” (Josh has an extensive update on other event cancellations in the central San Joaquin Valley beyond just cultural events.)

At Fresno City College, all events (including next week’s City Jazz Festival) are canceled through March, says public information officer Kathy Bonilla. A decision will be made on April events next week.

UPDATE 4 p.m. MONDAY: Good Company Players postpones opening of “King and I” for at least a month and limits performances of “Enchanted April.” You can read my in-depth update here.

UPDATE 3 p.m. TUESDAY: The Fresno Art Museum and the museum store are shutting down temporarily.

“Our closure is part of a best-practices effort rather than a response to an exposure; to our knowledge, no FAM visitor or staff person has tested positive for coronavirus,” writes Michele Ellis Pracy, the museum’s director, in a Tuesday email.

On-site tours and public programs are temporarily suspended until further notice.

Also canceled: The Fresno Arts Council on Tuesday announced it is suspending ArtHop for the next two months (April and May) because of COVID-19 concerns.

UPDATE 4:30 p.m. TUESDAY: Fresno State’s “Dark of the Moon,” which would have been the final title of the theater department’s season, joins the rest of the list. It had been scheduled to open May 1. Even if the COVID-19 societal shutdown were to be resolved by then, there would be no opportunity to do a fully staged production because so much rehearsal will be lost. Director J. Daniel Herring had been holding onto a glimmer of hope that if Fresno State reopened on April 27, which was part of the original campus shutdown plan, that he would have been able to “get a very polished staged reading on its feet.” He told me: “The cast has worked hard and had a very good run through last night for where we are in the process,” he said.

I’m sorry I won’t get a chance to see it.

The 2020 national tour of ‘Les Miserables.’

UPDATE 4:30 p.m. WEDNESDAY: Oops, I forgot about Broadway in Fresno’s “Les Miserables,” which is scheduled for April 28-May 3 at the Saroyan Theatre.

Here’s a statement from a Broadway in Fresno spokesperson:

“Broadway in Fresno is following Governor Gavin Newsom’s order to cancel or postpone gatherings over 250 until March 31, 2020. We are navigating an unprecedented situation in real time, and are monitoring the situation closely. At this time, we expect all future performances to go on as scheduled. If conditions change, we will update all impacted Ticket Holders via email, social, and our website regarding next steps. Our top priority is the health and well-being of our audience, staff, cast, crew, and community at large above all else.”

April 28 seems a long ways away at this point, but we’ll see what happens.

UPDATE 11 a.m. THURSDAY: And here’s word from Soli Deo Gloria, whose April 3 concert has been postponed. (Artistic director Julie Carter’s email subject line, which I received this morning, read “Soli Deo Gloria’s April 3rd Concert is Postponed,” but my desktop email notification only let me see “Soli Deo Gloria’s April 3rd Concert is Pos…” and I immediately thought: The concert is possible! I guess that at heart, I’m an optimist.)

All tickets sold for April 3 will be honored at the rescheduled date, so keep your ticket.

Soli Deo Gloria will keep patrons informed of the status of “An Evening of Broadway,” scheduled for May 15 and 17.

UPDATE 12:15 p.m. THURSDAY: Selma Arts Center’s “Tarzan” is postponed to the 2021 season.

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (1)

  • Dear Donald,
    Please also let your readers know that the March 22 concert by Pacific Artist Series featuring the music of Larry Warkentin has been postponed.
    In Christ, Walter Saul


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