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Yes, South Florida, we’re living with “an abundance of caution” again. As the state was marching toward Friday’s report of a new record for daily COVID infections, local entertainment and cultural venues were busy this week tweaking, cutting and gutting their schedules in a manner sadly reminiscent of the bad old days of the pandemic.
From book readings and beer tastings to live-music performances and Miami’s highly anticipated “Beyond Monet” show, a slew of postponements and cancellations have been announced, with venues juggling the concerns of artists, the risk tolerance of its audience or actual illness among the cast or staff.
Perhaps most dramatically, the city of Pompano Beach, which reported around 100 employees out sick, canceled or postponed several popular city-sponsored events in January, including Jazz Fest Pompano Beach on Jan. 28-29.
Sandra King, Pompano Beach communications administrator, said the alarming rise in COVID cases in the community presents a public safety issue. Highly attended events that put people in close proximity to each other, especially indoors, “just cannot happen with the soaring COVID-19 cases,” she said.
Along with postponing Jazz Fest, the city canceled the Shell Show on Saturday and the Nautical Flea Market Jan. 22-23, each an indoor event that draws thousands of visitors,
“This situation has been extremely challenging, as we have businesses, entertainers, etc., whose economic livelihoods depended on these events. But we’re also in a unique situation as a government agency — we must think about public health first,” King said.
A new date for Jazz Fest Pompano Beach, which featured a lineup including Arturo Sandoval, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Sammy Figueroa and others at the Pompano Beach Cultural Center, is expected to be announced soon.
In Delray Beach, the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum postponed its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Brunch, a signature of South Florida’s MLK celebrations that typically draws more than 200 guests from Palm Beach and Broward counties. Originally set for Jan. 17, the brunch will be held at a time to be determined.
Museum director Charlene Farrington said the decision was based on feedback from potential attendees.
“People were reluctant to be seated inside at an event, as the variant’s impact was becoming more widespread. We decided to postpone it since it didn’t look like guests were planning to come,” Farrington said.
Outdoor events were not immune to COVID concerns, illustrated by the postponement of Evening on Antique Row, a signature annual gathering for the Young Friends of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County. The West Palm Beach block party that fills South Dixie Highway with food, cocktails and live music will take place April 9.
Like a wildfire, the damage done to entertainment schedules by the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID defies prediction and logic: Esteemed 75-year-old songwriter and storyteller Jimmy Webb postponed his Jan. 13 concert at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, but Judy Collins, 82, remains on the calendar the next night at The Parker in Fort Lauderdale.
At Fort Lauderdale rock venue Culture Room, New Jersey hard-core outfit Thursday canceled its Jan. 11 co-headlining show with Cursive, but the rest of the January schedule at the club appears to be intact, right through Jan. 28-29 performances by Tab Benoit. The guitarist’s original 2020 concert at the Culture Room has been canceled four times.
The Culture Room concert was among more than a dozen shows across the Southeast cut from Thursday’s tour schedule this week.
“The reality is that these days decisions made concerning touring are not totally in our hands,” the band wrote on Facebook. “Recommendations from the likes of our crew and the other artists on the bill (never mind our families) have become a bigger part of the conversation as we try our best to navigate these current circumstances.”
Word also came this week of the last-minute postponement of “Beyond Monet: The Immersive Experience,” the massive, multisensory exhibition of Claude Monet works scheduled to debut Friday, Jan. 7, at Ice Palace Studios in Miami. Illuminating more than 50,000 square feet, “Beyond Monet” was touted as “the largest immersive experience in the country” and offering “ample room to safely enjoy the exhibit.”
Tickets to see “Beyond Monet” at Ice Palace Studios Feb. 4-27 are available at MiamiMonet.com.
The greasepaint crowd was startled recently when the touring production of “Hairspray” at the Arsht Center in Miami was forced to cancel performances due to COVID cases within the company.
Zoetic Stage adapted in a unique way, with the Miami theater company swapping out its March 17-April 10 production of “A Little Night Music” at the Arsht Center with a smaller show, “Side by Side by Sondheim.”
“This was not an easy choice, but we feel a reduced cast size is the more responsible path in keeping our audiences and artists safe,” said Zoetic Stage artistic director Stuart Meltzer in a statement.
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Citing COVID conditions, Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables postponed rehearsals and pushed back the opening of its original production of the Broadway musical “On Your Feet!” The show celebrates the lives and careers of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, who will have to wait for its hometown debut, now running Feb. 9-March 6.
For the record, the Jan. 11-23 run of “Tootsie” at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale is still a go.
Also for the record, organizers of the inaugural Bears in Lauderdale event, a Feb. 9-13 celebration of men without shirts in Wilton Manors, have postponed until 2023.
At the Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park, the popular Maple Bacon Coffee Porter festival to celebrate the annual release of its highly desired beer is still scheduled to go on Jan. 14-16, but as a much smaller affair. The event, which typically draws thousands of fans, will be missing live music, vendors, games, beer pairings, tours and, logically, most of the camaraderie that makes it so much fun.
The Broward County Libraries Division moved January indoor events either online or off the schedule. This includes ArtLit 2022, a Jan. 15 festival in Pompano Beach that marks the opening of the library’s participation in NEA Big Read, the community-wide reading program united around a single book. This year’s selection is author Thi Bui’s graphic novel “The Best We Could Do.”