Arts & Entertainment » Theater

Lost theater season leads to Geva layoffs

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With its upcoming season in doubt because of the coronavirus pandemic, Geva Theatre Center laid off a handful of employees on Thursday.

Artistic Director Mark Cuddy, who declined to say exactly how many employees had been let go, said Geva would probably know by next week when the regional theater will announce when shows would resume and what that season would look like.

Geva shut down the second half of the 2019-20 season in March. At the time, Cuddy estimated that two of the lost shows scheduled for the larger Wilson Stage, “Looks Like Pretty” and “Vietgone,” represented three-quarters of a million dollars in revenue that would have been generated from season subscribers.

The 2020-21 season was to open on Sept. 1 with “Airness,” a warmhearted comedy about people who play air guitars. But on July 1, Cuddy acknowledged those 10 shows were “not going to happen,” or perhaps would not happen as announced. Some shows would be dropped, he said, substituted by others that would fit the reduced capacity of the theater, or would be safer to produce for the actors and audience.

It has not been a good week for Rochester arts institutions. On Wednesday, the Baobab Cultural Center announced by email that it is closing its University Avenue location. It has presented a wide range of experiences in Black and African culture, including film screenings, drumming classes and a book signing by the activist poet Amiri Baraka.

Jeff Spevak is WXXI’s arts & life editor and reporter. He can be reached at jspevak@wxxi.org.