The Park Avenue Armory in New York has announced that it will postpone its forthcoming season of “socially distanced performance commissions” after several performers in the inaugural event tested positive for the coronavirus.
The suspension comes less than two weeks after organisers announced the new season, and as cases of Covid-19 begin to wane in the state and vaccinations become more widely available, prompting optimism for in-person arts events. While most New York museums reopened during the summer, theatres and live performance spaces have remained shut since the onset of the pandemic last year.
The season was scheduled to open this week with a dance and music performance that by the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company that addresses the isolation and trauma the pandemic and the ongoing violence against Black Americans, with a violin tribute to George Floyd. Members of the company tested positive during the safety testing required for all performers, crew members and staff.
The progamme was slated to be held in the vast open-floored Wade Thompson Drill Hall, which was recently refitted with a new air filtration system that “exceeds the standards for pandemic filtration”, according to organisers.
With the exception of two singers and a clarinetist, who remain thirteen feet apart from audience members and other performers, all visitors and staff would have been required to remain at least six feet apart and to wear masks throughout the performance. A contactless ticketing system and on-site rapid testing—in addition to a screening questionnaire 48 hours prior to the performance—also aimed to alleviate health concerns.
“While this is greatly disappointing for the artists and our audiences, this postponement is part of the process of our collective returning to in-person performances in responsible and safe ways,” says Rebecca Robertson, the founding president and executive producer of the Armory. She confirms that the affected performers are “feeling well”.
Update: The season will now open on 19 May.