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Salt Lake County Arts & Culture venues, public performances to close amid COVID-19 spike

KUTV Eccles theater 092316.JPG
Salt Lake County Arts & Culture venues, public performances to close amid COVID-19 spike (FILE Photo: KUTV)

In response to the rising cases of COVID-19, Salt Lake County Mayor Jennifer Wilson and the health department have closed Salt Lake County Arts & Culture venues and public performances starting Monday, through the end of the year.

This decision was made out of an abundance of caution to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health and safety of the community, a Facebook post stated.

The venues to close beginning Monday are:

  • Abravanel Hall,
  • Capitol Theatre,
  • Eccles Theater,
  • Rose Wagner Performing Arts.

The impacted shows at the Eccles Theater are:

  • Ballet West’s The Nutcracker
  • Live at the Eccles A Kurt Bestor Christmas
  • Utah Symphony’s Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony on Dec. 3-5 and Beethoven’s “Eroica” on Dec. 10-12
  • Salt Lake Dance Center’s The Night Before Christmas
  • Odyssey Dance It’s a Wonderful Life

Each organization is working now to determine if their shows will go virtual, be rescheduled, or canceled and will post updates to their websites.

The Nutcracker will have a virtual show this year, and the symphony is still deciding what to do with their performances after Monday. They still have the option to broadcast their performance, but without an audience. Some in the arts community were surprised that county recreation services remain open, while the arts will not.

Crystal Young-Otterstrom, executive director of the Utah Cultural Alliance, says over the last several months, the arts have proved their productions can be safe.

“More than 100,000 individuals have come through our doors and been kept safe throughout this time," Young-Otterstrom said.

Though performing arts centers are closing, it appears other county facilities, like recreation centers, are staying open.

“We have wondered internally as an industry, if it’s safe enough to keep county recreation centers, pools, and gyms open, why isn’t it safe to keep these performing arts venues open? But we trust Mayor Wilson and the county council to make the right call," Young-Otterstrom said.

2News asked Cami Munk, with Salt Lake County Arts and Culture, why the closures were impacting performing arts.

“Salt Lake County is restricting public gatherings, so an event in a theater, even with 500 people, we are restricting those at this time," Munk said.

And, as county-owned facilities, those closures will come at a cost. It comes as they’ve only been operating at 20% capacity since reopening in June. But Munk says the move is the right one to keep people safe.

Kurt Bestor, whose A Kurt Bestor Christmas is the longest-running show in the state aside from The Nutcracker, said he hopes to bring a virtual show to viewers next month.

I understand the mayor’s thinking. Utah numbers aren’t getting any better, so we have to do something more drastic. Unfortunately, I’m one of those drastic cuts," Bestor said.

Still, the pandemic has cost some performers their livelihood, Bestor said.

“There are quite a few people that aren’t going to be having a job at this time," he said.

He's going to do his best to bring a little holiday cheer this year, either way, making sure the show will go on — online.

“Utah, we love our Christmas. You can’t take that away. So I am going to find a way, I promise you, Utah," Bestor said.

Tickets for Events Scheduled After January 1.

Online or by phone at 801-355-ARTS.

In-person sales are suspended through Dec. 31, 2020

Visit for more details.