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Fine arts programs cancel events, move online amid COVID-19 concerns

The ASU Art Museum will host online tours as Gammage plans for future shows


"This shift to remote hits arts programs that rely on in-person gatherings like theater, dance, music and the ASU Art Museum particularly hard." Illustration published on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. 

ASU fine arts programs are adapting to the new need to work remotely by canceling events, limiting event attendees and moving services online.

Earlier this month, ASU announced the temporary cancellation of “all events on any ASU campus or in any ASU building that are not directly related to the educational or research mission of the university.” 

This shift to remote hits arts programs that rely on in-person gatherings like theater, dance, music and the ASU Art Museum particularly hard. 

The ASU Art Museum closed its two locations until further notice from the University. To continue offering the museum’s services to the public, museum staff is working to push out content on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram including virtual tours, images and downloadable templates for activities families can do from home.

“We're really just trying to meet people where they are in these kind of weird and uncertain circumstances, we really want to bring our museum experience to people at home,” Amanda Urrea, communications program coordinator at the museum, said. “We're lucky in the sense that we have a lot of images and things already that we can share with people, so we're just trying to get creative with it.”

ASU's School of Music has moved online as well, with almost all events canceled with the exception of final student degree recitals, according to an email from Heather Landes, director of the School of Music.

These recitals will continue with audiences limited to the immediate family and instructors of the student performers and will be available to stream online. 

Gammage will also adhere to ASU’s COVID-19 guidelines, canceling or postponing events until April 12. Updates on Gammage's operations can be found on its site. Michael Gerardi, a junior studying theater, is a cast member of ASU's production of The Crucible, which was postponed.

"We're lucky that it didn't just get outright canceled because a lot of stuff had to just get cut completely," Gerardi said. "So I'm really grateful that we're still going to get a chance to perform even if it's not when we originally planned."

The show lineup at Gammage for the 2020-2021 includes Disney’s Frozen, The Band’s Visit, Tony-sweeping favorites like Hamilton and Hadestown, and classic stories like Tootsie, Oklahoma!, My Fair Lady, Jersey Boys and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Now that Gammage has announced next year’s shows, staff members are busy preparing for the new season to begin. 

Behind-the-scenes work that will continue into the fall includes production of Gammbills and posters, setting up lighting and sound systems for each show, working with season ticket holders, repairing seats, stocking concessions and organizing dressing room spaces backstage.

“It's like a game of chess where all the pieces are in action at the same time,” Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director of Gammage, said. 

Gerardi has a special relationship with Gammage. Not only has he performed there and attended around 25 Gammage shows since he was a kid, but he has worked in concessions at the theater for the past two years. For Gerardi, Gammage is a place to relax and engage with art.

“It's a really great community of performers and artists who support each other and love to collaborate and it's really the ultimate culmination of all or most art forms,” Gerardi said. “There's acting, there’s dance, there’s singing, there's a plethora of design elements as well; but any creative mind can definitely find something to appreciate and enjoy about theater.” 

Reach the reporter at and on Twitter @GretaForslund.

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