from Per about COVID-19
Dear Opera House family,
I wanted to reach out to you personally to let you know that, in the interest of limiting the potential spread of COVID-19, we have decided to suspend all of our public events until further notice. This includes suspending the Maine in the Movies film showings we had scheduled for this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
We have been monitoring this quickly developing situation carefully, and discussing it amongst staff and board, and we will continue to monitor the situation to determine how long to suspend our programs. You have probably heard the news that the NBA suspended its season yesterday, that Broadway is closing all shows today, that many colleges and universities have canceled all in-person classes, and so on.
These are all healthy, proactive measures that institutions are taking to help protect those of us most vulnerable to the virus. On an individual level, each of us can also help by following the CDC’s recommendations carefully in order to prevent the spread of the virus, so our hospitals don’t get overwhelmed. I'm sure you've heard all of the following points, but they bear repeating:
Wash your hands frequently with soap for at least 20 seconds
Avoid touching your face
Stay home if you’re sick
Cover coughs & sneezes
Wear a facemask if you are sick or caring for someone who is sick (but otherwise do not buy them, so medical professionals have first access)
Keep a safe distance from others, and avoid large social gatherings
The last, of course, feels like a strange message for an organization like ours to promulgate: we exist in order to bring people together, and, as social creatures, it is hardwired in our nature to want to convene. But health and safety must come first, and it is important in this moment that we all do everything we can to slow the spread of the virus.
Suspending all public events is, as you can imagine, a daunting step for an arts organization to take, as we rely on income from the events we present in order to survive, in addition to the vital support of our donors. I was at a meeting today in Ellsworth with DownEast Acadia Regional Tourism and representatives from various organizations in our region, where all present were concerned not only with the physical health of our neighbors but with the economic impact the pandemic may have on our communities Downeast, on Maine as a whole, and beyond. We will all have to look out for each other.
We recognize that decisions such as ours to suspend public gatherings until further notice come at a cost not only to ourselves as an organization, and to artists and arts staff, but to all who love to gather for our events. I, for one, am sorely disappointed we won't be taking part this weekend in the Maine in the Movies festival that has been so brilliantly organized by Mainers Tom Wilhite and Mike Perreault, and that we've been looking forward to for months.
We at OHA hope that even as all of us are told to keep a social distance, that we continue to maintain strong connections to each other however we safely can, by calling friends and neighbors, by reaching out via email, social media, etc. There is an opportunity in every crisis, and we as an organization will try to think of creative ways to continue to serve our mission and our community in the face of these challenges.
Finally, a press release today from the office of Governor Mills, in response to the first identified instance of the virus in Maine, offers some valuable resources for Mainers to keep abreast of current information:
"For more information on Maine’s response to COVID-19 and updated testing results, visit the Maine CDC website. Additionally, Maine CDC and 211 Maine have launched a new option for Mainers to get answers to questions about COVID-19 at any time. This service is available by dialing 211 (or 1-866-811-5695), texting your ZIP code to 898-211, or emailing email@example.com."
Take care, friends,
Producing Executive Director