Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center Cancel Fall Performances


With coronavirus cases sharply down in New York City, residents are preparing to return to dining outdoors and visiting hair salons as soon as next week. But as reopening continues this summer and fall, the city’s major classical music institutions will be silent.

On Thursday, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center announced they would cancel their fall seasons. Coming on the heels of similar announcements from the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic, the decisions make clear that there will be few, if any, large-scale performances before 2021 in one of the world’s musical centers.

“This was a very difficult decision for us to make,” Clive Gillinson, Carnegie’s executive and artistic director, said in a statement. “However, the safety of Carnegie Hall’s artists, audiences and staff is paramount.”

Lincoln Center — which presents performances and also acts as a landlord to the Met, the Philharmonic and other organizations — anticipates over $1.3 million in lost ticket revenue from the cancellation of fall events, Isabel Sinistore, a spokeswoman, said in an email.

She added that the center had seen about $13 million in lost revenue, including ticket sales and rentals of its spaces, since the pandemic began. The center has furloughed or laid off approximately half its staff, and its leadership team has taken salary cuts.

Synneve Carlino, a spokeswoman for Carnegie Hall, said the hall is projecting a deficit of approximately $8 million for the fiscal year ending June 30. It anticipates a larger deficit next year, including the impact of losing approximately $13 million to $14 million in ticket revenue and rental income from the cancellation of its fall season.

Those losses will be partially offset by furloughs of approximately 50 of the hall’s 274 full-time employees who had still been working this spring. (Another 80 staff members, including ushers and stagehands, had already stopped working when the hall closed in March.) There will be pay cuts for all employees making over $75,000 a year.

The hall tentatively plans to reopen its three theaters on Jan. 7, 2021, and Lincoln Center aims to follow on Feb. 6. Carnegie’s opening night gala, originally scheduled for Oct. 7, will become a virtual celebration on a date to be announced.

New York’s theaters have been closed since the middle of March. The Met, which hopes to return with a New Year’s Eve gala, has projected that its empty stage will cost it close to $100 million in lost revenue. The Philharmonic plans to return early in 2021. On Thursday, New York City Ballet announced that it, too, would close for the fall, losing its lucrative “Nutcracker” run around Christmastime. Broadway theaters are shuttered at least through Labor Day, but many industry officials believe they will remain closed significantly longer than that.

Closures continue outside New York, too: On Tuesday, both San Francisco Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the two largest American opera companies besides the Met, announced the cancellation of their fall seasons.

While live musical performances look to be largely out for this fall, several of New York’s museums have announced tentative opening plans. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, a national bellwether, is aiming for mid-August.

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