COVID-19 Arts Industry Updates

Arts SA AGSAIn accordance with the federal government’s escalation of the Coronavirus COVID-19 precautionary measures – that all indoor public gatherings of more than 100 people and mass outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people are now banned – in order to limit the spread of the virus, many arts organisations have heeded the government’s advice, and have postponed and/or cancelled programs, or have temporarily shut venues.

In Victoria, a State of Emergency has been declared to combat COVID-19 and help to provide the Chief Health Officer with the powers he needs to enforce 14-day isolation requirements for all travellers entering Australia and cancel mass gatherings of more than 500 people, as agreed by National Cabinet yesterday. Similar arrangements have been put in place by other States and Territories.

Victoria’s largest cultural institutions including Arts Centre Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, the State Library and Museums Victoria have announced temporary closures, while events such as the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Dark Mofo, Clunes Booktown Festival, Melbourne Queer Film Festival and the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival have already been postponed.

In the interim, some galleries have decided to stay open including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of South Australia, Geelong Art Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, National Gallery of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, and Sydney Living Museums, just to name a few – however, public programs and events have either been cancelled or postponed. Check individual galleries for details.

Following is a summary of some of the updates provided to us:


A Chorus Line:
The Darlinghurst Theatre Company board took the incredibly difficult decision to postpone the rest of the season of A Chorus Line, effective immediately

Australian Musical Theatre Festival:
The upcoming Australian Musical Theatre Festival scheduled for 21 – 24 May 2020. Never fear, the festival will be back in 2021, bigger and better than ever with a diverse program full of opportunities to teach, collaborate, engage, perform, learn and – of course – enjoy! The 2021 festival will be held from 19 – 23 May with the potential of offering something to instil hope and keep our musical theatre passion going, later in 2020.

Bendigo Writers Festival:
Bendigo Writers Festival’s Big Bookmark, which was to run from 8 – 10 May 2020, has been cancelled.

Billy Elliot The Musical:
The producers of Billy Elliot The Musical sincerely regret to advise that the musical played its final performance at the Regent Theatre on Sunday 15 March. The production was scheduled to play until April 19th – but due to these unprecedented developments the production had no other option. Ticket holders for all future performances should contact their place of purchase.

Byron Bay Bluesfest:
The Byron Bay Bluesfest scheduled to take place 9 – 13 April 2020 has been cancelled.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:
Due to QPAC closing until 30 April, the Brisbane season of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (scheduled to play until 19 April) has been cancelled. All ticket holders will be contacted by QPAC directly and will receive a full refund.

Come From Away:
The final week of the Melbourne season will not proceed. However, the producers of Come From Away have announced the musical will return to Melbourne for a strictly limited, six-week encore season in February 2021. At this stage, the Sydney season in August will proceed as planned.

Festival of Dangerous Ideas:
The Festival of Dangerous Ideas, scheduled for 3 – 5 April has been cancelled. Ticket holders will be contacted in relation to the processing of refunds. The Ethics Centre has asked “As a not-for-profit charity that is facing a substantial financial loss related to the cancellation of FODI, we are asking ticket holders to consider making a tax-deductible donation, of all or part of their ticket price, to support the centre and future presentations of FODI.’’

Green Room Awards Ceremony:
The 37th Green Room Awards ceremony scheduled for Monday 30 March 2020 at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre will not proceed. To ensure that artists, supporters and audiences can celebrate the outstanding work presented during 2019, the GRAA are instead working on a virtual ceremony. They will be back in touch with further details of the virtual Green Room Awards celebration and ceremony shortly.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child:
All performances from Wednesday 18 March until Sunday 12 April 2020 have been suspended. As cancelled performances unfortunately coincide with Victorian School holidays, the producers will soon be releasing an additional 3 weeks of performances across the September/October school holiday period through to Sunday 4 October 2020.

KURIOS – Cirque du Soleil:
Cirque du Soleil has postpone performances KURIOS scheduled to be presented under the Big Top at the Flemington Racecourse until 15 April 2020. They are currently looking at rescheduling KURIOS performances in Melbourne. The exact dates of the rescheduled performances will be communicated on the websites of Cirque du Soleil and all ticket holders for KURIOS in Melbourne will receive official notice by their original point of purchase.

Merrily We Roll Along:
The Hayes Theatre Co has announced that the planned season of Merrily We Roll Along has been postponed until 2021. A full refund including booking fee will be given to all ticket holders.

In response to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 the current season of MPavilion will come to a premature close. Over the coming weeks we will deliver highlights of the MPavilion 2019 season with weekly updates to our podcast channel. Exciting news of our plans for MPavilion 2020 coming shortly.

National Folk Festival:
This year’s National Folk Festival scheduled for Easter (9 – 13 April) has been cancelled.

Next Wave Festival 2020:
Next Wave has announced that A Government of Artists will pause to reconsider what it means to come together, listen and discuss society’s most pressing issues through art, in light of the escalation of COVID-19. Scheduled for 15 – 31 May, the Next Wave Festival 2020 will not go ahead as planned but instead deliver an alternative, responsive program led by artists and distributed online and in an extended form.

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light:
Parrtjima – A Festival in Light is postponed and will be rescheduled to September 2020. Specific dates will be announced soon. They look forward to delivering an outstanding event and any changes to the program will be shared as soon as possible.

PHOTO 2020 International Festival of Photography:
Scheduled to run 23 April – 10 May, PHOTO 2020 has been postponed until September 2020.

Red Hot Summer Tour
The RHST has postponed or cancelled the remaining dates planned for the current tour. The Kiama, Ballarat and Barossa performances will be postponed until October 2020. Unfortunately, the events planned for Wodonga, Dubbo, Darwin, Cairns, Mornington and Noosa have been cancelled and will not be going ahead. Ticket holders will receive a full refund.

Rolling Thunder Vietnam:
The Rolling Thunder Vietnam 2020 tour of Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney (State Theatre and Sydney Coliseum Theatre) has been postponed.

School of Rock:
Following the Adelaide Festival Centre’s decision to close the venue with immediate effect, we have to cancel our season of School Of Rock in Adelaide. The box office will be in touch with you in regards to your ticket purchase.

Showcase Victoria:
The Victorian Association of Performing Arts Centres (VAPAC) and Regional Arts Victoria regrettably advise that the event cannot proceed in its current format as a live interactive event. Recognising the incredible importance of Showcase Victoria for future touring we are working hard to develop an online model to ensure that the connections which would have been initiated at the event for programming in 2021 and 2022 are not jeopardised.

Shrek the Musical:
Her Majesty’s Theatre and the producers of Shrek the Musical sincerely regret to advise that as a result of the Government’s announcement that mass gatherings of 500 people or more are banned, the Sunday 15 March performance of Shrek the Musical at Her Majesty’s Theatre was its final. Further advice on refunds will be issued shortly.

Sydney Film Festival:
It is with deep regret that, for the first time in its history, the Sydney Film Festival board and management must announce the cancellation of this year’s Festival, planned for 3 – 14 June 2020. Sydney Film Festival plays a vital role in the Australian screen ecosystem and the Festival recognises the immense impact the cancellation will have on the filmmaking, exhibition and distribution community, as well as audiences, volunteers, sponsors, donors and staff.

Vivid Sydney:
Vivid Sydney 2020 has been cancelled on the recommendations of the Australian Government and health authorities regarding non-essential, organised gatherings of more than 500 people. They are currently working through the implications of the decision and will provide further information and advice as soon as it’s available. Vivid Sydney will shine brighter than ever in 2021!

War Horse:
To those customers who have purchased tickets for the upcoming season of War Horse at Crown Theatre in Perth, the producers are still navigating official advice from the State Government & Live Performance Australia. We aim to advise customers of any official disruptions to the performances shortly.  Please standby for further information.


Adelaide Festival Centre:
Following the declaration of a Public Health Emergency in South Australia, Adelaide Festival Centre venues will close to the public and all performances will be suspended until 30 April 2020.

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra:
The ASO will continue to make music, however, and we are currently exploring opportunities to broadcast and livestream concerts. Ben Folds: The Symphonic Tour – which was scheduled to take place at Thebarton Theatre this Thursday 19 March – will be postponed. Master Series 2: Natsuko Plays Brahms – which is scheduled for Friday 3 and Saturday 4 April will no longer be public events. Mozart at Elder 1 – scheduled for Wednesday 8 April – will go ahead as planned with limited audience numbers.

Alcaston Gallery:
The Gallery will be closed to the public as a precautionary measure and will be open by appointment only with all exhibitions available to view online.

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA):
ACCA will close until Tuesday 14 April 2020. ACCA recognise that engagement with the arts is essential to our wellbeing and is particularly important in times of uncertainty. ACCA encourages you to continue to engage with and support the arts and cultural sector by following artists, galleries and museums on social media and accessing their digital resources.

Biennale of Sydney:
For nearly 50 years the Biennale of Sydney has presented the most dynamic contemporary art from around the globe in?iconic venues across Sydney. As an organisation, we are drawing on direct advice and information provided by both Federal and State government authorities, and, as per the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPCC) recommendations with regard to public events, the Biennale of Sydney will continue to be open to the public with free exhibition entry.

Belvoir has made the difficult but necessary decision to cancel all remaining performances of Dance Nation. Although our venue’s capacity is less than 500, we are being cautious and following the government’s directive to restrict public gatherings. The health and safety of our audience, staff and actors is always our first priority.

Buxton Contemporary:
In support of initiatives to control the spread of COVID-19, Buxton Contemporary is temporarily closed to the public.

Chapel Off Chapel:
Chapel Off Chapel will close Wednesday 18 March until Monday 13 April. This timing will be reviewed in line with the evolving situation. If you have purchased tickets for performances during this period, your refunds will be processed automatically over the next few days and you will receive a confirmation email.

Circus Oz:
Circus Oz will be postponing the upcoming seasons of NEON: Reboot and Bubblegum Cabaret, and will be postponing circus classes until term two. At this stage, the tour of Aurora is still underway, however, the Hamilton Performing Arts Centre has cancelled the performance of Aurora on Wednesday 18 March.

Griffin Theatre Company:
Griffin Theatre Company has announced the temporary closure of the SBW Stables Theatre. This means cancelling the remaining performances of David Williamson’s Family Values in Parramatta and Geelong, and Australian Theatre for Young People’s CUSP. The 2020 Batch Festival and the upcoming season of Matthew Whittet’s Kindness are also cancelled.

Hayes Theatre Co:
All performances are cancelled until 21 June 2020. Hayes Theatre Co is not closing! They have stated they will be “investing in creative development and when the time comes to welcome audiences back, we promise to have wonders in store for you.”

HOTA – Gold Coast:
Home of the Arts (HOTA) will remained closed until the end of March 2020.

La Boite Theatre Company:
Season 2020 Shows have not yet been affected and are still able to purchase tickets to all upcoming performances. Drama Australia National Conference is postponed until further notice.

La Mama Theatre:
La Mama will close at the end of this week, allowing the season of Running With Emus to run its course, closing this Sunday 22 March. Tonight’s performance of Poetica is cancelled and the upcoming tour Ladies of the Bay is postponed. The entire Comedy Festival season, including the productions of: We Too Us Too Me Too Too Too, Incognito!, The Business of God and Mrs. Robinson: A Soap Cabaret is postponed. La Mama hopes to re-program all these productions in 2021.

Malthouse Theatre:
Malthouse Theatre will be temporarily closed to the public until Sunday 12 April 2020. Malthouse Theatre has cancelled or postponed all Comedy Festival at The Malthouse performances. Also postponed are all performances of Grey Arias and Macbeth (This Ignorant Present) until further notice. They are currently looking at available times later this year to reschedule these performances.

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra:
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra concerts between Monday 16 March and Monday 13 April, inclusive, will not proceed. However, keep the music going. Beginning with tonight at 7.00pm, MSO invite you to join them on the MSO YouTube channel to enjoy a free live stream of our performance of Scheherazade. They are working to live stream additional performances over coming weeks and we look forward to performing for you digitally.

Melbourne Theatre Company:
Melbourne Theatre Company has announced the cancellation of all remaining performances of Torch the Place and Emerald CityTorch the Place was due to close on Monday 23 March, while Emerald City was scheduled to run until Saturday 18 April. Any decision about future productions in MTC’s 2020 Season will be made pending developments in the COVID-19 situation. The Southbank Theatre and MTC HQ buildings will remain open with staff working both on-site and remotely.

Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery:
Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery will be closed to the public from Tuesday 17 March until further notice. Even though the gallery doors are temporarily closed, MPRG will continue to share our collection, exhibitions, stories and children’s activities online.

National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA):
The NFSA has made the decision to cancel their education programs from today, as well as their on-site screenings, exhibitions and special events from 4.00pm – Wednesday 18 March until 30 April 2020. The building will not be open to the public during this period.

NORPA / Lismore City Hall:
All performances at NORPA and Lismore City Hall between now and 30 April have been cancelled or postponed. Cancelled: Sleeping Beauty – Monday 30 & Tuesday 31 March 2020; and The Choir of Man – Friday 3 April 2020. Postponed – new dates to be confirmed: Ross Noble­ – Tuesday 24 March 2020; Backbone – Friday 27 & Saturday 28 March 2020; Taylor Henderson – Saturday 18 April 2020; and World of Musicals – Sunday 17 May 2020.

Opera Australia:
Opera Australia has cancelled the remainder of its Sydney summer season. This includes all performances of Attila, Carmen and Great Opera Hits at the Sydney Opera House that were scheduled from Monday 16 through to Saturday 28 March. The upcoming season of La Traviata – Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour has also been cancelled.

Queensland Ballet:
60th Anniversary Gala (20 – 28 March 2020 – QPAC) – performances will no longer be going ahead. QB is working with QPAC to reschedule this anniversary celebration and expect to finalise the new dates next week. Swan Lake (17 – 18 April 2020 – Arts Centre Melbourne) – QB is liaising closely with their collaborators including Arts Centre Melbourne. Should it become necessary to cancel or reschedule this season, they will be in touch with all details as soon as possible.

Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC):
All QPAC theatres (the Lyric, Playhouse, Cremorne and the Concert Hall) will be closed until Thursday 30 April 2020. All patrons impacted by these cancellations will be contacted by QPAC and will be offered the opportunity to receive a full refund. Beyond this period, QPAC is continuing to review the Centre’s program in collaboration with companies, artists and producers. As the situation evolves and new information is made available we will provide updates.

Red Stitch:
With great regret Red Stitch have decided to suspend their world premiere season of Single Ladies by Michele Lee until further notice. “It is especially heartbreaking to have to suspend a wonderful new Australian play, with the years of work that have been put into its development through our INK program,” said The Red Stitch Ensemble.

Seymour Centre:
Effective immediately, the Seymour Centre will be suspending all operations until further notice. The Seymour Centre will continue to monitor the situation closely over the coming weeks. A number of upcoming shows will be affected by the closure. You can find a full list here. The Centre is aiming to reschedule as many shows as possible, but if your show is cancelled, you will be entitled to a refund. All ticket holders to affected shows will be contacted as soon as possible.

Shrine of Remembrance:
Melbourne’s iconic memorial and gallery is closed until further notice. Alternative arrangements are being made for this year’s Dawn Service, March and Commemorative Service.

State Theatre Company South Australia:
Due to the recent announcement of the closure of the Adelaide Festival Centre until 30 April 2020, State Theatre Company South Australia are obliged to cancel our upcoming seasons of both The Gospel According to Paul and Single Asian Female.

Sydney Living Museums:
Sydney Living Museums has decided to temporarily suspend all public programming for a period of six weeks through to Sunday 26 April 2020. This includes onsite learning programs, performances, talks, walking tours and all school holiday activities. Their 12 museums and historic houses will remain open to the public, and they will continue to monitor updates and take guidance from the NSW Government, and will respond promptly to any new information or advice.

Sydney Opera House:
The Sydney Opera House has announced the cancellation of all public performances until 29 March inclusive – at which point the Opera House will re-evaluate based on the latest health advice and developments in the evolving COVID-19 situation. At this stage, public areas of the site including precinct food and beverage outlets, tours and retail will continue to operate.

Sydney Theatre Company:
Sydney Theatre Company have announced the cancellation of the remaining performances of their production of No Pay? No Way! following the government’s directive to restrict public gatherings. The Riverside Theatres, Parramatta season of No Pay? No Way! (scheduled from 1 – 4 April) has also been cancelled.

TarraWarra Museum of Art:
TWMA is closely monitoring all information and advice relating to the current COVID-19 outbreak – and at the moment will remain open to the public and continue to welcome visitors to the Museum. The Open Weekend scheduled for 21 & 22 March 2020 has been cancelled.

Theatre Works:
In response to the unfolding health situation, Theatre Works have made the difficult but necessary decision to temporarily close their venue until 1 May and postpone the upcoming seasons of WellBlessVoldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts, Jungle Bungle and Singing Swallows as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19.

The Australian Ballet:
VOLT (to 24 March – Arts Centre Melbourne) – all remaining performances of the Melbourne season will not proceed. The Sydney season (3 – 22 April) in the Joan Sutherland Theatre – Sydney Opera House – The Australian Ballet are in discussion with Sydney Opera House regarding their April and May seasons and will make an announcement as soon as possible.

The Butterfly Club:
The Butterfly Club is closed until 26 April 2020 pending further review of government decisions.

The Wheeler Centre:
In line with their arts and cultural partners, the Wheeler Centre is closing as a cautious and prudent response to an evolving situation. All events up to Thursday 7 May 2020 are cancelled. Some other future events will be made accessible remotely in some way – announcements pending.

White Rabbit Gallery:
White Rabbit Gallery will continue to remain open until further notice and will be limiting attendance to 100 people in the gallery at any one time. Public tours of the gallery are temporarily suspended until further notice.

Woodfordia – The Planting Festival 2020:
Woodfordia has cancelled The Planting Festival 2020.

We urge everyone to look after themselves and their loved ones and continue to follow the advice of government health authorities with regard to maintaining good hygiene practices. More information can be found on the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Image: Art Gallery of South Australia – courtesy of Arts South Australia

Note: This page was last updated on Wednesday 18 March 2020 – 5.00pm (AEDT). Please visit: for more up-to-date details.