Coronavirus prompts surge of postponed San Diego concert, theater, film and arts events
The growing list of coronavirus-fueled event postponements includes the San Diego Symphony, La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Latino Film Festival and more
Concerns about the coronavirus, which has now been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, have prompted a surge of postponed and canceled arts events across San Diego County.
A list of those impacted events — including the 2020 San Diego Latino Film Festival, Dutch violinist André Rieu’s March 18 Pechanga Arena San Diego concert, Celine Dion’s March 31 concert at the same venue, and a significant number more — appears below.
Early Thursday afternoon, the San Diego Symphony, La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla Music Society and San Diego Opera issued a joint statement that they were all “canceling and/or postponing performances through the end of March 2020, effective immediately.”
This was followed by the Old Globe’s announcement that it is suspending public performances, effective immediately, through at least the end of March.
By mid-afternoon, Live Nation and AEG/Goldenvoice — the nation and the world’s two largest entertainment events producers — had announced that they will halt all of their events, beginning this weekend, at least through the end of March.
In San Diego County, Live Nation owns and operates: downtown’s House of Blues, which presents concerts almost nightly; Chula Vista’s North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre, whose 2020 season is currently not slated to begin until May; and the Observatory North Park, which late Thursday afternoon postponed its show the same night by Umphreys’ McGee. Live Nation also books concerts at The Magnolia in El Cajon (which on Thursday postponed its three performances between March 18 and March 28), SDSU’s Viejas Arena and Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre, and several area casinos.
AEG/Goldenvoice has a controlling interest in Pechanga Arena San Diego and books shows at a number of area venues. These include: the Balboa Theatre, where the Tuesday show by Will Ferrell has been canceled and the March 20 show by fellow comedian Steven Wright has been rescheduled for Sept. 18; and Humphreys Concerts by the Bay, whose 2020 season is currently scheduled to open with a concert by Lupe Fiasco. Humphreys had planned to announce its entire upcoming new season March 29, but this week pushed that date back until mid-April.
All of these moves follow Monday’s coronavirus-fueled announcement that the rock band Pearl Jam was canceling its spring tour, including a concert at SDSU’s Viejas Arena, and Tuesday’s announcement that the 2020 Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals in Indio — which each draw 20 percent of their audiences from San Diego County — had both been postponed until October.
The situation began to snowball Wednesday evening, after California Gov. Gavin Newsom called for the cancellation or postponement of gatherings of 250 or more people “until at least through (the end of) March.” This followed the California Department of Public Health having issued a series of recommended policies Wednesday to stop the spread of COVID-19.
One of those recommendations, in particular, could have an enormous impact on performing arts organizations, venues and concert promoters, large and small, in San Diego and across the state. It calls for limiting non-essential gatherings to no more than 250 people, with smaller events only proceeding if organizers can implement “social distancing” of six feet per person.
The situation is further compounded by President Trump’s announcement Wednesday that, beginning Friday at midnight, he was imposing a halt on air travel to the U.S. from 26 European countries, other than Britain. That could impact an unknown number of music and dance troupes who were scheduled to perform in California later this month or in the first half of April.
Here is a partial list of postponements and cancellations of arts events in San Diego
The list will be updated regularly as new information becomes available.
San Diego Rep has confirmed it is canceling the rest of its run of “House of Joy.” The Madhuri Shekhar play had its official press opening Wednesday, and had been set to run through March 29. The downtown theater is also suspending all public activities until at least the end of the month. “In light of the recent communications from Governor Newsom and the California Department of Public Health regarding COVID 19, San Diego Repertory Theatre will be canceling all remaining performances of its production of House of Joy, and all public activities until March 31st, 2020. We are currently in the process of contacting our patrons regarding their ticket options. We will continue to monitor the situation closely for activities beyond the month of March. We are saddened that we will not be able to share this wonderful production live with more audience members, but we feel this is the best decision to ensure the health and safety of our patrons, staff, performers and volunteers.” (James Hebert)
On Thursday afternoon, the San Diego Symphony, La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla Music Society and San Diego Opera issued a joint statement. In it, the four nonprofit arts groups announced that they “will be cancelling and/or postponing performances through the end of March 2020, effective immediately. We are currently in the process of reaching out to our patrons about their ticketing options, and a statement from each respective organization will be distributed later this afternoon. We will continue to monitor the situation closely for performances beyond March 31. While we are deeply saddened to take this action, we feel it is imperative in the effort to safeguard the health and well-being of our patrons, performers, staff and volunteers.” (George Varga)
Later on Thursday afternoon, the Old Globe announced that it is suspending public performances effective immediately through at least the end of March. The theater currently has two productions that are now in rehearsal, “Little Women” (which was to begin preview performances on Saturday) and “Faceless,” that will be postponed until further notice. In addition, all of the community-based programming run by the Globe’s Department of Arts Engagement in partnership with neighborhood non-profit and other organizations will be temporarily suspended, or — where possible — be conducted online, according to a statement from the theater. The Old Globe Classical Directing Fellowship, which was slated to take place next week, is being rescheduled for later this year. In the meanwhile, all other Globe operations will continue uninterrupted. (George Varga)
Also on Thursday afternoon, the Poway Center for the Performing Arts canceled all of its planned events through the end of March. Poway OnStage, which operates the center, will be working with the city of Poway to process refunds and/or reschedule its week-long Youth Theater Camp, which was scheduled to run through Friday. In addition, the city of Poway has canceled the Poway Chamber of Commerce’s March 29 street fair. (George Varga)
On Thursday morning, the 27th annual San Diego Latino Film Festival — which was scheduled to start today and run through March 22 — announced it has been postponed until a yet-to-be-determined date. “In light of the new ‘gathering recommendations from the California Health Department announced Wednesday night, we regret to inform you that we have made the extremely difficult decision to postpone this year’s 27th San Diego Latino Film Festival,” festival founder Ethan van Thillo said in a statement. “Our festival team has been moving forward valiantly; and doing what they could to limit the damage and have a smaller and wonderful film fest. For the safety of all involved, we feel this is the best decision at this time. Please help our non-profit by informing the public of this unfortunate news.” (George Varga)
On Thursday morning, Dutch violinist André Rieu announced the postponement of all his remaining U.S. tour dates, including his March 18 Pechanga Arena San Diego concert with his Johann Strauss Orchestra. “The well-being of our beloved fans, musicians and staff is always our top priority,” Rieu said in a statement. “Although we are very disappointed not to be able to perform for you now, we are committed to doing our part to help protect you at this stage. We are already working to reschedule the concerts and all tickets will be honored for the new dates.” (George Varga)
Also on Thursday morning, the annual ShamROCK festival, an annual benefit for the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation held in downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, was canceled. A statement released by the event’s organizers reads: “At the direction of California authorities, we must sadly announce — due to COVID-19 concerns — we will not be celebrating ShamROCK 2020. ... We take the safety and health of our guests, staff and community very seriously. ... It breaks our heart that after 26 years, we won’t be celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day with you but we look forward to returning to the Gaslamp with more Irish festivities than ever before!” Details on “ticket options” will be released Friday, according to the statement. (George Varga)
San Diego Opera on Tuesday morning announced it was canceling upcoming performances of “Aging Magician,” making it the first major San Diego arts institution to shutter a production due to coronavirus concerns. The performances were to be held Friday and Saturday at the Balboa Theatre. A statement read, in part: “The production was canceled due to concerns over possible travel restrictions for the 25+ youth choral performers from Brooklyn, NY. San Diego Opera fully intended to present all scheduled performances with the theater rented, contracted labor on hand, and the creative crew in San Diego.” (Pam Kragen)
The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, whose concerts take place at UC San Diego in La Jolla, on Tuesday canceled its Saturday and Sunday performances of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem because of coronavirus concerns. The decision to cancel, according to symphony Executive Director Stephanie Weaver, following UCSD’s announcement that it will conduct all of its courses online beginning with the March 25 start of its spring quarter. The school also has canceled or postponed all events and meetings that are expected to draw more than 100 people. All of the 75-member symphony and 90-member chorus’ performances, including this weekend’s now-canceled War Requiem concerts, are held in the campus’ 764-seat Mandeville Auditorium. (George Varga)
Also on Tuesday, UC San Diego’s borders-leaping ArtPower performing arts series announced it is canceling all six of its remaining 15th season concerts that were scheduled to take place at the La Jolla campus between this week and May 2. A May 12 performance by satirist David Sedaris at downtown’s Balboa Theatre is still set to take place as scheduled. (George Varga)
Other cancellations and postponements
- Flogging Molly at Harrah’s Resort SoCal (March 12)
- “Whose Live Anyway” at California Center for the Arts, Escondido (March 12)
- Best of Broadway at California Center for the Arts, Escondido (March 13-14)
- Livingston Taylor at Humphreys Backstage Live (March 15)
- San Diego Women’s Week (March 16-20)
- Will Ferrell at Balboa Theatre (March 17, canceled)
- Mayhem and Abbath at Observatory North Park (March 22
- Joan Osborne, The Weepies at California Center for the Arts, Escondido (April 3)
- Adams Ave. Unplugged (April 25)
- Belly Up (all performances through end of March)
- Music Box (all performances through end of March)
- House of Blues (all main concert-hall shows are postponed or canceled through April 9)
- Observatory North Park (check website for specific postponements)
- Kinky Friedman at the Casbah (March 12; new date tba)
- Soul Asylum at the Belly Up (moved from March 13 to Oct. 10)
- Yachtley Crew at the Music Box (March 13; new date tba)
- Rebel Souljahz at the Music Box (March 14; new date tba)
- Delta Spirit at the Belly Up (March 14; new date tba)
- Dizzy’s (weekend of March 14-15)
- Amanda Shires at the Belly Up (March 15; new date tba)
- Grace Potter at Observatory North Park (March 15; new date tba)
- RJD2 at the Music Box (moved from March 21 to June 26)
- Rolando Street Fair (March 22)
- San Diego Music Awards at House of Blues (March 23, postponed; SDMA showcase concerts will take place as scheduled, between March 17 and 21, at local bars and nightclubs)
- Galactic (at the Belly Up (March 24; new date tba)
- Spafford at the Belly Up (April 3; new date tba)
- Lauren Daigle at Pechanga Arena San Diego (April 16, postponed until Oct. 17)
5:25 PM, Mar. 14, 2020: