Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

Detroit Cultural Institutions Ask Ticket Holders to Consider Exchanging, Donating Tickets

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Image credit: Sishir Buddharaju / WDET

Theaters, museums, and other cultural organizations face financial hardship after canceling programs to help combat COVID-19.

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This week has brought one announcement after another — classes, sporting events, and other large gatherings all canceled due to the spread of coronavirus.

We are used to providing music in times of hardship, because that’s what heals people.” - Detroit Symphony Orchestra President & CEO Anne Parsons.

Cultural institutions all over Southeast Michigan have either temporarily closed or they’ve canceled programs.

It’s a disappointment for patrons of the arts. But for the institutions themselves, it could mean serious financial pain. Many are offering refunds for people who bought tickets to the events — a rare offering for some of those organizations. Some are asking ticket holders to consider exchanging tickets for future productions, or even donating the cost of the ticket to help them through this tough time.

Click on the player above to hear the leaders of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Michigan Opera Theatre talk with Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today.

Michigan Opera Theatre has canceled performances through April 5.Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

Michigan Opera Theatre has canceled performances through April 5.


Anne Parsons is the president & CEO of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, which has cancelled concerts through March 15, along with all ensemble rehearsals and performances at the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center in Detroit through March 17. Parsons says they didn’t make those decisions lightly.

There’s so much damage that can be done to individuals,” she says. “This is artists, this is stage hands, parking attendants, bartenders, you go on and on — full and part time staff.”

Parsons says she can’t put a dollar figure on the amount they stand to lose yet, because they’re still making difficult decisions.  

If you wish to help us, particularly the artists and paying the artists and some relief, you could donate your ticket as opposed to exchanging your ticket,” says Parsons.

Wayne Brown is the president & CEO of Michigan Opera Theatre, which has canceled this weekend’s performance by the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the upcoming production of the opera Champion.

Throughout history in moments of crises have navigated such challenges by turning to the arts and artists to provide comfort and solace,” says Brown. “I believe that this round, however, organizations such as Michigan Opera Theatre and my colleagues have a responsibility to do all that we can to preserve safety and temper anxiety by temporarily suspending performances over, in our case, over the next two weeks.”

This is the right thing to do,” says Brown. “It was a difficult decision, but it was the right decision… That having been said, it’s costly.”

Brown says staging an opera like “Champion” costs the company about a million dollars.

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Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


This post is a part of Coronavirus in Michigan.

101.9 WDET, Detroit’s NPR Station, is committed to providing accurate, up-to-date information on coronavirus, and it's related illness COVID-19, in Michigan. 

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