The Staller Center for the Arts closed its doors and canceled all events through May 15. The theater announced in an email sent to Stony Brook community on Tuesday, March 17.
“Stony Brook University and the Staller Center for the Arts continue to closely monitor the guidance provided by the CDC and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and has determined that out of an abundance of caution, at this time, all events at the Staller Center for the Arts through May 15, 2020, are cancelled,” the email read.
Alan Inkles, director of The Staller Center for the Arts, said in a phone interview that the staff has been working hard on refunding the money to anyone who had bought tickets to any event scheduled between March and May.
“We canceled closer to 20 shows, between shows, film screenings, met opera broadcasts, that includes a couple of university orchestra concerts that were there,” Inkles said. When asked about how much money the center would refund for these cancellations, “I’m going to say probably in the vicinity of maybe $100,000.00,” Inkles said.
COVID-19 and social distancing has wreaked havoc financially in almost every market you can think of. Places where people normally go for entertainment like broadway, movie theatres, restaurants and bars are being closed. Gatherings with over 10 people are discouraged by the government. Churches are even canceling their services through easter. However, the arts and entertainment industry is hit particularly hard since major concerts and music festivals like Coachella, along with film festivals such as Tribeca, are being postponed or canceled.
“I’m really worried about our artists out there because these folks get paid when they play, they get paid when they perform.” Inkles said.
The Staller Center for the Arts is where Stony Brook University students and community come together for entertainment. Some events the center hosted include the screening of the premiere of the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, the annual Stony Brook Film festival in the summer, performances from the Stony Brook University Orchestra, amongst many others. All of these programs are given at a discounted rate for students. First on us is a program that gives freshman students at SBU a free ticket to their first show at the Staller Center, and they offer $10.00 tickets for students to the rest of their programs.
As director, Inkles organizes events such as their annual fundraising gala which helps financially support those programs. This year, the Gala — which was almost canceled — was hosted by Kelli O’Hara and Sutton Foster.
“This fundraiser was a big event to help take care of those things, we provide programs for underrepresented students and [diverse groups of] students across Long Island,” Inkles said.
Inkles was grateful at the community’s understanding, generosity and support for these programs. “A few hundred people who donated probably around $100,000 above the ticket price to help us support this could have asked for their money back … only a handful actually asked to get credit for that,” he said. Inkles wants as much of that money as possible to go back to student programs.
Inkles said he wanted people to know that The Staller Center for the Arts is committed to doing their part for the common goal, which is keeping everyone safe and healthy. Event updates can be found on their website.
“We try to be a part of the solution, not the problem,” Inkles said.
Correction 03/23/2020 at 6:02pm:
A previous version of this article stated that the donation portion above ticket price is $200,000. The actual donation portion above ticket price is $100,000.