Entertainment Venues and Local Hangouts Close Temporarily

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The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum and MSU Broad Art Lab have been closed to the public indefinitely. (Photo by Alice Dreger)

East Lansing Mayor Ruth Beier declared a local state of emergency due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. ELi provided coverage on that, and continues to update its expansive coverage. With this announcement came the closing of the city hall building, court, public works buildings, recycling centers, senior programs, community centers, and more.

As of Monday, March 16, Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered all restaurants and bars to be closed to dine-in customers, effective at 3 p.m.

These local and state orders have already proven to be impactful on local East Lansing businesses, with many uncertain of when they will be able to re-open. Many are taking to their Facebook and Instagram accounts to keep customers updated on their adjusted hours, takeout options, and canceled events/programming.

Many of the events we often cover are being canceled left and right, with art galleries closing their doors, local coffee shops scaling way back to pick-up orders only, and concerts being rescheduled and refunded.

MSU Broad Director of Communications Morgan Butts said in an email on Friday morning the museum was “aligned with MSU in our approach, and any decisions we make going forward for the museum in particular are considering the health and safety of our visitors and our staff, as well as our current staffing capacity.” By Friday evening, they took to Facebook to inform their patrons: “As MSU continues to evaluate the safety of our campus and community in response to COVID-19, we have made the decision to close the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum and MSU Broad Art Lab to the public. Due to the rapidly changing nature of the situation, we have not determined a reopening date. We will continue to communicate updates as they become available.”

Their statement also expanded to include: “We believe that art has the power to help us feel more connected to one another, even in moments where we must physically distance ourselves for the safety of our community.”

While many worldwide art museums have taken to offer free virtual tours on Google, including MOMA The Museum of Modern Art in New York, N.Y., Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., perhaps the Broad will expand its programs to be visible virtually?

The visual arts isn’t the only one impacted here – as is performing arts centers, including the Wharton Center. Public Relations Director Bob Hoffman stated in a Friday press release that the first week’s scheduled performances of Wicked were canceled in April.

Soon, this list of cancelations grew to include RAIN-A Tribute to the Beatles scheduled for May 6, and likely more to come. Ticketholders are encouraged to call the Ticket Office with questions regarding upcoming performances, refunds, rescheduled dates, etc.

Ten Pound Fiddle Board of Directors also made the decision to cancel the remainder of concerts for the Spring Season. This meant all concerts from March 13-April 24 were canceled, including The Steel Wheels, Lynn Miles, Joshua Davis, Frank Youngman and Seth Bernard, Low Lily, and Emma’s Revolution. Their Facebook announced shared similar sentiment in their regret to cancel the unifying, entertainment: “We understand the wisdom of “social distancing” in slowing down the advance of this disease. But “social distancing” is pretty much the opposite of what we do. Our whole goal is to bring people together around music.”

Refunds for the shows are available, but if not requested – Ten Pound Fiddle will use those dollars to go directly to help cover expenses incurred by the cancellation of the six shows.

Abrams Planetarium has also canceled its scheduled shows from March 16-April 5, as noted on their Facebook page.

Popular hangout spots for students of all ages, and families alike are also being impacted. East Lansing Public Library will close in its entirety from March 16-April 5. No donations will be accepted to the Friends of the East Lansing Public Library during this time. All programming has been canceled, except for the weekly Tuesday East Lansing Public School student program, #RealTalk. These will be moved to a virtual event. On its Facebook page, ELPL stated: “Escape all this coronavirus talk and grab a slice of normalcy as we keep our Tuesday library routine through the powers of the internet. Yes, that’s right, ELPS students (only) are welcome to attend #RealTalk at 3:15 p.m. tomorrow. Copy the link in the pic, and join me to talk about whatever is on your mind these days. You can’t come to the library, but the library can come to you.”

Local coffee shops are also trying to find a ‘new normal’ within their spaces, often overrun by students studying, business partners meeting, and regular customers. Blue Owl Coffee in East Lansing often has a different event each night of the week, welcoming in new and old customers. Their popular weekly open mic night each Wednesday, The Mic Drop has been canceled for the foreseeable future. Organizers posted online about a trial run of a digital ‘mic drop,’ inviting participants from the comfort of their homes.

For now, Blue Owl is planning on being open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for take-out orders only, paid with credit cards. They are also planning on adding some pre-order mobile options, and home delivery. “We love you, and are very grateful to continue to build hope with you for our community. We are better together. #hopeliveshere,” Nick Berry, co-owner states on the company’s social media.

Many local residents have expressed concern as to continually support their businesses, museums, boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants throughout this trying time. So much of what makes the city of East Lansing a vibrant, diverse, livable place is at risk – both now and the future of these businesses. Their livelihood depends on customers, patrons, and community members.

Many small businesses have invited local support by purchasing gift certificates for the future, ordering take-out or to-go orders, leaving a Google review, and sharing their goods/services on social media. Expect more coverage on how the ELi community is dealing with the effects of this.

REMINDER: The City of East Lansing is under a State of Emergency and you are encouraged to practice social distancing. Read more about what the state of emergency means.

ELi has a special section dedicated to our reporting on COVID-19 for East Lansing. See it here and sign up for ELi’s mailer to stay informed

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