Theatres across Grand Rapids close due to COVID-19

Wealthy Street Theatre
Courtesy / Rapid Growth Media

Wealthy Street Theatre Courtesy / Rapid Growth Media

Mary Dupuis, Staff Reporter

COVID-19 is not just closing down K-12 schools, universities, and restaurants, but also theatres scattered throughout the Grand Rapids area. 

Some of the many organizations being directly affected by this are the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Wealthy Theatre and even the DeVos Performance Hall. 

In the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre’s statement to the public, Executive and Artistic Director, Bruce Tinker, said that the theatre has postponed or suspended all public programs for the month of March. However, the theatre hopes to resume their regularly scheduled activities as soon as they are able. 

Wealthy Theatre was forced to take similar measures as of March 16 when the Grand Rapids Community Media Center (GRCMC) decided to close everything to the public for the “foreseeable future.” Other organizations under the GRCMC closed by this notion included the WYCE and GRTV. 

The DeVos Place and DeVos Performance Hall also began to close things down on March 16. The Box Office is currently closed until further notice and all performances taking place at this time have been postponed or rescheduled. 

While performances are being postponed, rescheduled or even canceled, the issue of ticket sales have been addressed by the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre and the DeVos Performance Hall. 

The Grand Rapids Civic Theatre will be offering vouchers for future performances and have asked the public to refrain from calling the box office with ticket inquiries. They also asked that their patrons would consider donating the cost of their ticket back to the theatre as their cancellations of performances result in financial hardship. 

The DeVos Performance Hall said in the statement included on their website that tickets for upcoming shows will be honored at rescheduled dates. They advise patrons to hold on to their current tickets until more information is released.

Wealthy Theatre did not mention tickets directly, but said to consult the schedule included on their website for updates and cancellations and to email them with any inquiries that may arise.

As the theatres enter this time of uncertainty, they are doing their best to remain a positive force for themselves and their patrons. 

Director of Wealthy Theatre, Sarah Nawrocki, said the theatre and the organizations it works with are trying to continue to spread the joys of the arts in an online form. 

“We have seen many folks we work with host online performances, classes and more,” Nawrocki said. “So even though the theatre is temporarily closed, the show must go on. We will continue to share wonderful opportunities through our social media pages of ways for our community to still enjoy live entertainment from the comfort and safety of their own homes.”

Nawrocki said the theatre is using this time to work on their own creative projects as well as maintenance tasks to keep the theatre in good shape, attempting to find the “silver lining” of this hard situation. 

In a previous statement provided by the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Director of Marketing and Engagement, Ben Greene, said that the theatre plans to face the upcoming hardships with resiliency. 

“For thousands of years, the storytellers of the theatre have been faced with hardships,” Greene said. “For thousands of years, we’ve come out on the other side. We pride ourselves on being our community’s storytellers, and plan to continue that mission for decades to come. Just like for the last 95 years, we are #CivicStrong. With your continued support, we will press on – together.”

Nawrocki hopes the community will emerge from this pandemic stronger, and with an urge to come see a live performance. 

“There is absolutely no reason to lose hope,” Nawrocki said. “We are a resilient and passionate community. Let us all focus on what is most important right now: staying safe, healthy and kind. We hope that the community will come out of this pandemic with a renewed appreciation for in-person activities, whether that is enjoying a meal at a local restaurant with friends, or sharing in a moving experience at a live show.”