Pondering coronavirus’s economic impact on the Metropolitan Opera, the country’s largest performing-arts organization

Posted on: March 16, 2020

“During the last few performances before the coronavirus outbreak silenced the Metropolitan Opera on Thursday, posters placed discreetly in the theater’s restrooms offered tips for staying healthy: Avoid contact with the sick. Cover coughs. Wash hands,” writes Michael Cooper in Friday’s (3/13) New York Times. “Keeping the Met financially healthy through the closure, which will extend at least through the end of the month, will be another kind of challenge…. The high costs of mounting opera, coupled with weakness at the box office and a relatively small endowment, make it highly dependent on donations. Now, it will lose millions in ticket revenues. The wave of coronavirus closures threaten … other nonprofit cultural institutions in New York…. Michael M. Kaiser, the chairman of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland, said that while small organizations faced the greatest risk from closures, large ones are vulnerable, too…. The [Met] plans to begin offering [free] nightly online streams of operas from its extensive catalog, free of charge, beginning Monday [March 16] at 7:30 p.m.… ‘I walked across an empty stage,’ … said Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb… ‘It was a strange and hollow feeling.’ ”