Kennedy Center cancels most fall events; will reopen in 2021

Tue Jun 23, 2020 at 11:18 am
File photo: Ron Blunt/KC

The Kennedy Center has cancelled most previously scheduled performances through the end of 2020, due to the health risks associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, the center announced Tuesday. 

The decision by the city’s largest venue for classical music means that the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera will not present their announced schedule of events for the rest of the calendar year. The Fortas Chamber Concerts series is being reevaluated with the hope that some programs can be presented safely this fall in alternate venues.

In accordance with the city’s pandemic restrictions, leadership hopes to offer some live performances with appropriate social distancing in the Kennedy Center’s 130,000 square feet of outdoor green space. This may include some previously planned performances relocated into different venues. Since its closure on March 13, the Kennedy Center has presented only digital content.

“Our lives as we have known them have been upended by Covid-19, but the world continues to spin forward and we need artists now more than ever to help light the way,” said Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter in a press release. “I am deeply proud of our staff and artists who have been forging new digital stages for audiences in the nation’s capital and across the country.”

According to the press release, the Kennedy Center expects to lose an estimated $45.7 million in ticket sales and other earned income during the 2020-2021 season. As such, the Center is looking at cost savings across the institution to protect as many staff and artistic positions as possible, and is beginning discussions with its constituent union partners to that effect.

Although the NSO’s annual gala in September will not be rescheduled, the Kennedy Center plans to present the Kennedy Center Honors and Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at some point in 2021. 

Revised NSO and WNO schedules for January 2021 will be announced later this summer.

For subscribers holding tickets to affected performances, the ticket value will be placed on account and representatives from the Kennedy Center will be in contact with options once the amended seasons have been announced.

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