Above photo: premiere of Justin Peck’s Rotunda Exciting news from New York City Ballet, as the company announced a digital Spring Season after canceling its Koch Theater season due to COVID-19. The NYCB digital season will run from the originally scheduled April 21 to May 29, featuring performances every Tuesday and Friday at 8 pm EST on the company’s YouTube, Facebook, and website (see the NYCB website for details). Tomorrow, fans will see Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante with Tiler Peck and Andrew Veyette filmed January 18, 2017 and on Friday, the February world premiere of Justin Peck’s Rotunda. Next week will feature Balanchine’s Apollo and Ballo Della Regina. Also, the company will present weekly podcasts with discussions on some of the ballets included in the digital season; movement classes taught by NYCB Associate Director Wendy Whelan on Instagram Live; Ballet Essentials Online with movement combinations inspired by Balanchine works; and Saturday morning movement activities for children. This lineup is an impressive array of digital activity for bummed out ballet fans anticipating spring performances at Koch Theater. I have not seen anything as systematic as the NYCB digital Spring Season from any ballet company in response to canceled seasons. NYCB deserves much praise, not allowing depressing recent events to hinder its mission.
The NYCB digital season lays the groundwork for paid streaming that I discussed in my COVID-19 and the Arts article. Given the volatility and unpredictability of the virus, audience entertainment events are highly speculative this year and arts organizations would be foolish to expect business as usual in the fall. Social distancing will likely be a constant as the emergency phase of the virus subsides, with limited seats available in theaters-if at all. For revenue, live or recently taped events could be streamed to paid subscribers, generating meaningful revenue. Eight billion global potential customers far outnumber the 21 million that reside in the New York metro area.