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AGSA, Museum suspend public programs while Festival Centre, State Theatre join nation-wide event cancellations

Nat Rogers / AGSA
AGSA will remain open, but all tours and events have been paused

Official advice to restrict non-essential mass gatherings to limit COVID-19 transmission has seen many arts and cultural institutions around the city cancel events, and in some cases close their doors. Here’s a rundown of what’s still open, and what’s not.

Update 25 March: The Art Gallery of South Australia, South Australian Museum, Samstag Museum of Art and ACE Open have all closed indefinitely following the latest government restrictions on public gathering. As of 22 March, all pubs, clubs and cinemas have also been shut.

Yesterday afternoon the Art Gallery of South Australia released a statement cancelling its public programming and members events – including tours, school visits, talks and its First Fridays series – until further notice. The gallery will remain open to the public however, with AGSA stating that it is stepping up hygiene measures and encouraging social distancing practices for staff and visitors.

“We believe that art can play a pivotal role in times of uncertainty and we invite our audiences to stay connected to art, especially through our enhanced online presence and through our social media channels,” AGSA director Rhana Devenport said in a statement to The Adelaide Review. “We hope that these activities will delight and inspire families and broader audiences in these times.”

Festival Centre closes

Today Adelaide Festival Centre confirmed it would close to the public from midnight and suspend all performances until 30 April, having hosted several performances over the weekend as part of the final stretch of the 2020 Adelaide Festival program.

“We deeply regret any inconvenience caused to our patrons and any distress to performers and the teams of people who work so hard to create and produce our shows,” Adelaide Festival Centre CEO Douglas Gautier said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with those in the arts and creative industries who will be most affected by this challenging situation. The arts unite and sustain us all and we look forward to welcoming everyone back to Adelaide Festival Centre as soon as it is safe to do so.”

The Festival Centre’s month-long run of School of Rock The Musical was due to kick off on 20 March, while other affected shows include Regurgitator’s POGOGO children’s show and Giggle and Hoot’s farewell tour.

Single Asian Female
State Theatre Company of South Australia
State Theatre’s entire April/May run of Michelle Law’s Single Asian Female has been cancelled

State Theatre Company South Australia‘s 2020 program will also be hit by the closure, with Jonathan Biggin’s one-man Keating tribute The Gospel According to Paul due to hit the Dunstan Playhouse from 24 March – 4 April. Michelle Law’s Single Asian Female – a standout from the company’s 2020 program – was also due to begin on 23 April.

“This is a difficult decision for all at State Theatre Company South Australia and we are extremely sad to have to deliver this news,” artistic director Mitchell Butel said of the news. “We were excited to share these incredible new Australian comedies with you and the brilliant talents in both shows. Yet, the health and safety of our audiences and employees is of the utmost importance.”

State Opera South Australia has also suspended its 27 March Memorial Drive performance of Carmina Burana, along with its May season of The Barber of Seville. The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra has also confirmed that Ben Folds’ 19 March Thebarton Theatre show with the orchestra will be postponed, while its Master Series 2: Natsuko Plays Brahms program on 3 – 4 April will now be performed without an audience pending plans to broadcast or livestream the concert.

Public institutions keep doors open

The South Australian Museum has also cancelled upcoming events including its 22 March Picnic With Your Pooch and VIP Makers Dinner and Producers’ Market (part of the already-cancelled Tasting Australia Prorgram), while its doors are remaining open to the public.

The State Library of South Australia has confirmed that it will stay open, while encouraging social distancing, implementing hand sanitisation stations throughout its buildings and increased its cleaning schedule. Like AGSA, it has discouraged members of the public who feel unwell from attending, while encouraging use of its online resources as an alternative to physical visitation.

Update (19 March): The State Library has now suspended all face-to-face services, which includes its reference library, information desk and Somerville Reading Room, while the Mortlock Wing and Institute Building remains open. At least one of the Institute’s tenants, Writers SA, has elected to close with staff working from home.

Samstag Museum of Art will also remain open pending further advice, while removing all touchscreens and cancelling tours. Its neighbour ACE Open also remains open with its current exhibition, Mariana Castillo Deball’s Replaying Life’s Tape running until 25 April as planned.

MOD., however, has closed temporarily “given the highly interactive nature of the exhibits”. With touch screens and other hands on activities forming the bulk of its current exhibition Seven Siblings From The Future, this seems like the correct call.

Ben Folds was due to perform at Thebarton Theatre this Thursday, but will more likely spend the evening in front of the TV

Music festivals scrap dates, Vivid Sydney cancelled

Byron Bay music festival Splendour In The Grass has today announced it will reschedule its 2020 event to October, news which will affect its local counterpart Spin Off festival, which was yet to announce the lineup for its 24 July event. Groovin The Moo has also cancelled its April/May dates, which were set to bring the likes of Kelis, Gang of Youths and Supergrass to Wayville Showgrounds on 24 April.

Outside of South Australia, Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art has confirmed it will close indefinitely, one week after its June winter festival Dark Mofo was pre-emptively pulled. “Visitors to Mona might be able to preserve social distancing,” founder David Walsh said in a statement, “but social distance is more easily preserved by staying home.”

The National Gallery of Victoria has also confirmed its temporary closure until 13 April, while the Art Gallery of NSW will suspend its public programs until the end of March but remain open.

Sydney’s annual Vivid Festival has been canned for this year, while the April-May Sydney Writers’ Festival has also been cancelled barely a week after announcing its 2020 program.

The long-term effect of restricting mass gatherings on Australia’s arts and cultural sectors is expected to be severe and wide-reaching, for both artists and the legion of support and event staff.

Events cancelled or postponed:

As of Wednesday 18 March, there have been 37 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Australia. Readers are advised to consult SA Health’s website for the latest information.

Walter Marsh

Walter Marsh

Digital Editor
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Walter is a writer, editor and broadcaster living on Kaurna Country. His work has appeared in Rip It Up, The Saturday Paper, Smith Journal, Royal Auto, Swampland Magazine, Broadsheet and The Thousands.

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