As the week progressed, it became clear that all venues for art and other kinds of creative engagement on the Outer Cape were closing. Here’s a round-up of the state of things, with a few suggestions on what’s still possible to see and do.
The major local arts institutions announced their shuttering one by one, but by Monday night, all had given in to the needs of the crisis.
The Provincetown Art Association and Museum was among the first, canceling events and hours through the end of March. The Fine Arts Work Center followed, extending the cancellations through the end of April. On Monday night, the Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill followed suit, canceling all events and classes through the end of April. Other institutions, such as the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum and Provincetown Commons, postponed and canceled events through April and beyond. Most likely the closings will be extended, but decisions will be made as the situation evolves.
For artists already in residence here, such as the fellows and visiting artists at the Fine Arts Work Center, work continues. Many have expressed a desire to stay put, even though exhibits and readings have been canceled. The Independent will continue to cover their work and share their experiences.
All Outer Cape public libraries and councils on aging have canceled their programming and closed to the public. The need for seniors and other vulnerable populations to stay at home and limit contact is especially important.
Each institution is dealing with this differently. The Provincetown library, for example, is suggesting that patrons make use of its collection of e-books, movies, and filmed entertainment, available online. Racks of free books and disks have been put outside in Provincetown and Eastham. The Truro library suggests calling for books and making drive-by pickups. East End Books Ptown, the boutique bookstore, has closed to the public but continues to sell online. Some of the services extended by the councils on aging will continue — contact your local facility for details — but the buildings are closed to the public.
Local performance venues — the Provincetown Theater, the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, and the Payomet Performing Arts Center in Truro — have either canceled or postponed events that were scheduled through April, and Payomet through May 22, with the possibility of some performers rescheduling. One positive note: the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, which has canceled the performances that were screened live in HD at WHAT, is streaming taped operas for free online.
How these institutions deal with the upcoming summer season, with the need for rehearsals and artists traveling from out of town, remains to be seen. But they need our support, creatively and financially, to stay alive. Don’t give up on them yet.
Movie theaters first resisted then succumbed to the inevitable. The Cape Cinema in Dennis announced it would stay open, then reversed its decision after the governor’s call for limits on gatherings. On Sunday, the Wellfleet Cinemas announced it would close through the end of April. On Monday, the Waters Edge Cinema in Provincetown closed through March 31. Movies and television are still available in your home, via cable, the internet, and by mail, and the Independent will continue its arts coverage of filmed entertainment as always.
Other venues for music are closed to the public: Wellfleet Preservation Hall through the end of March, and likely beyond; the Crown & Anchor and Pilgrim House in Provincetown, through April; piano bars such as Tin Pan Alley in Provincetown, indefinitely; and restaurants and bars, such as the Provincetown Brewing Co. and Truro Vineyards, have canceled live events. One local musician, Jon Richardson, hopes to set up virtual performances. We will cover such crisis-proof events whenever they pop up.
Though the Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary has canceled all talks and events, its trails are still open. Jay Critchley is still hoping that work on the V.F.W. installation in Provincetown continues apace, whether the live experience inside the hall is possible in the near future or not. Virtual shows may be the answer for much of the arts on Cape Cod.
One holdout on scheduling art shows is “The Provincetown Collagists,” at the Julie Heller Gallery East. An opening had been planned for March 20, but the curators — Chuck White, who has been cataloging Heller’s vast collection and scheduling shows, and local artist Karen Cappotto, whom White invited to curate a selection of collages — have instead decided to do it virtually, once the gallery closed to the public.
“We want to introduce the work to people,” Cappotto told the Independent. “For me, it’s essential that I do this.” There’s a page for “The Provincetown Collagists” set up on Facebook, and people are invited to view stills and videos or even drive by 465 Commercial St. and see the work through the window.
Despite the fear and contagion, people will still be able to create, to share, and to enrich our lives with arts and ideas. Survival comes first, but defining what we live for is essential as well.