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Updates from WNY cultural institutions, large venues relating to coronavirus

On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned public gatherings of more than 500 people at a time and ordered facilities holding up to 500 people for an event to cut attendance levels to a maximum of half-capacity.

This will have a major effect on a significant number of Buffalo and Western New York cultural institutions and would seem to negate events at the larger KeyBank Center and Shea's Buffalo Theatre.

At present, most of these institutions are proceeding with their scheduled programming, albeit with caution. Cancellations of events including exhibits, concerts and plays have been, at present, few.

[Related: Buffalo-area cultural events that have been canceled]

Here are comments and official statements from some of the cultural institutions and large venues in the Buffalo area regarding their reactions to the ongoing coronavirus crisis:

The Buffalo Zoo

The Buffalo Zoo has announced that it will be closed for two weeks, starting Saturday.

The zoo's team of animal care and operational staff will remain on site to take care of the animals, zoo officials said Friday in their announcement."During this time we’ll be engaging in deep cleaning and other projects that will get us ready to reopen," the zoo said.

According to the zoo's announcement, there are currently no cases of COVID-19 at the zoo, including among the animals.

Local theater companies announce postponements, cancellations

Shea’s Performing Arts Center

Remaining performances of "Hello, Dolly!" at Shea's Buffalo Theatre have been canceled.

In a statement, Shea's said it is canceling "Dolly" as well as "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," under the direction of Cuomo "in support of the health and well-being of the theater-going public, as well as those who work in the theater industry.

"We urge all community members to practice caution and strictly follow the CDC’s guidelines for preventing the spread of disease during this time. Shea’s will continue to closely monitor the evolving coronavirus situation and make decisions as circumstances require, in accordance with guidelines from the CDC and state and local health officials," Shea's said in the statement.

Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center

“(Thursday's) performance in Asbury Hall and (Friday) night’s opening of the gallery installation, both part of John Oswald’s residency, which artists have been here working on all week, are happening, and we expect them to be small gatherings and not a danger at this point under current advisories in Erie County,” Hallwalls creative director Ed Cardoni said. “Several events planned for the next couple of weeks are being cancelled by traveling artists because of either travel restrictions or conditions where they are originating. We expect more of this, and there are developments we are responding to literally by the minute. We have met as a staff and are in touch with our peers and colleagues statewide and nationally.”

“Some tours have already been cancelled,” added music director Steve Baczkowski. “Next week’s concert with Paul Lytton from the UK is cancelled and so is Peter Brotzmann. Other shows are still on, but future concerts are still in jeopardy of course. In the meantime, we're taking precautions in regards to hygiene, cleaning our facilities and sanitizing points of contact like doorknobs and armrests.”

Explore & More Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Children's Museum

“As our community begins to feel the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19), we wanted to share with you the steps we are taking here at Explore & More to help protect the health and safety of our visitors and associates, which is always our top priority.

“We have been closely monitoring local, national and global reports on the evolving impact of COVID-19. We are following the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization, applicable public health agencies as well as a global network of museums to ensure we are complying with best practices. As a result, we’ve established processes and procedures that will allow us to respond timely and appropriately.

“Our housekeeping and sanitation efforts in the museum have been greatly expanded. Our disinfectant is hospital-grade and therefore kills both flu and COVID-19 germs. We use industrial grade dishwashers to clean smaller toys daily. We have increased the number of times that we clean the museum’s often touched and played with surfaces so that we are constantly cycling throughout the museum cleaning. We have added hand sanitizing stations to every floor of the museum.

“We ask our beloved patrons to please wait to visit Explore & More if you and/or the members of your family are experiencing flu-like symptoms until you and your family are fever free for a minimum of 24 hours. Please wash your hands frequently when visiting the museum and refrain from touching your hands to your face, eyes, nose or mouth. If you need to cough or sneeze, please do so in a tissue or on your upper arm and wash your hands immediately after.”

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

Update: The Buffalo Philharmonic orchestra has suspended all concerts and events for the next month.

As New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday, March 12 that all gatherings of more than 500 people will be prohibited indefinitely, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra was forced to cancel a month’s worth of performances and possibly more in the future, including the M&T Bank Classics series and Coffee Concerts presented by Elderwood. Canceled performances at this time include: Mozart and the Divine, originally scheduled Fri. Mar. 20, 10:30 a.m.,  Sat. Mar. 21, 8 p.m. The Doo Wop Project, originally scheduled Fri. Mar. 27, 10:30 a.m., Sat. Mar. 28, at 8 p.m. Portraits of England, originally scheduled Fri. Apr. 3, 10:30 a.m., Sat. Apr. 4, 8pm. Details on further closings are still in development.

The following BPO performances will be rescheduled for a later date: Mozart's Gran Partita by the BPO Chamber Wind Ensemble, Clarence Presbyterian Church, originally scheduled Fri. Mar. 13, 7:30 p.m. BPO Out of the Box at Sportsmen's, originally scheduled Mon. Mar. 16, 7 p.m. Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra (GBYO) Side by Side Concert, originally scheduled Wed. Mar. 25, 7:30 p.m. BPO Kids Once Upon a Time, originally scheduled Sun. Apr. 5, 2:30 p.m. Details on these rescheduled concerts are forthcoming and will be posted at


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