Coronavirus: Chicago's theater community hurt by COVID-19 pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's theater community is being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with most shows and concerts either canceled or postponed.

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"Bug," "School Girls," and "My Fair Lady" are just three of dozens of Chicago area stage productions suspended due to COVID-19 guidelines. For the League of Chicago Theatres, with 240 member theatres, this stage exit is unprecedented.

"The last time we saw anything like this was 9/11, but we shut down for maybe two days," said Deb Clapp, executive director for the League of Chicago Theatres.

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From Broadway In Chicago, which is immediately canceling current and upcoming performances and rescheduling at a later date, to small storefront theaters, even with under 250 seats, who wish to not risk their audiences - all groups will hurt when a curtain is down. Arts Alliance Illinois is currently looking at data seeking a financial forecast for theatres.

"For the small and mid-size organizations, they are expecting tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue," said Claire Rice, executive director of Arts Alliance Illinois. "And for the larger institutions, it's in to the millions - even with just a 30-day closure."

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"Our patrons, our boards, the philanthropic community will realize the value of the arts community and when this subsides we'll step in to do what they can to repair the economic damage that's going to take place across the industry," said Roche Schulfer, executive director of the Goodman Theatre.

A seismic impact of these suspensions will be on individual artists and contract workers.

"Our field is built on folks who string together freelance gigs one after the other and they will be hardest hit," Rice said.

If you are interested in helping out the theater community during these postponements, they have a suggestion: perhaps you don't ask for a ticket refund.

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