COVID-19 cancellations: NAC, OSO, OAG, GCTC, VERSefest, National Gallery, History, War, Science and Nature museums

The NAC has announced cancellation of performances until April 5 because of COVID-19.

The National Arts Centre has cancelled all performance until April 5, the centre said in a statement on Friday morning.

They were joined by the national museums in terse press release Friday afternoon.

The Ottawa Symphony Orchestra has cancelled the rest of its season.

“The national museums have made the decision to close the museums across Canada to visitors and all other groups, effective March 14, until further notice.

“We regret the impact of this decision on the individuals, families and groups who use our facilities. However, we believe that this decision is in the best interests of all the communities we serve.”

The closure affects the Canadian Museum of History, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canadian War Museum, Ingenium and the National Gallery of Canada.

The City of Ottawa will close all facilities March 16 and that includes the Ottawa Art Gallery, the Shenkman Arts Centre and Centrepointe.

And the Canadian Film Institute has announced the cancellation of the first ever International Film Festival of Ottawa which was to begin at the end of the month. Organizers say they will contact ticket holders Monday about refunds.

The centre’s CEO Christopher Deacon said, in the release, that the “health and safety of our visitors, artists, and staff is of paramount importance. Due to the unprecedented pandemic of the COVID-19 coronavirus, we are cancelling all performances and events at the National Arts Centre until Sunday April 5.

The NAC cancellation will affect concerts by Alan Doyle and Amy Helm; dance performances featuring the Nederlands Dans Theater and Romeo and Juliet by the National Ballet of Canada; the play Copenhagen and concerts by the NAC Orchestra on March 21 with violinist Simone Lamsma and cellist Harriet Krijgh that would have celebrated Canada-Holland friendship and a performance by NACO concertmaster Yosuke Kawasaki playing a new work by the composer Peter Paul Koprowski.

The rest of the run of CATS at the NAC has also been affected with the final shows being cancelled. Broadway Across Canada says it is working to bring it back to Ottawa and is telling patrons to keep their tickets as they “will be in touch as soon as possible with more information on the status of this rescheduled event.

Dan Hoy as Munkustrap in the North American tour of Cats. Photo: Matthew Murphy

“All performances for the remaining shows on the Broadway Across Canada season in Ottawa are expected to go on as scheduled,” the organization said.

Over at GCTC “we have made the difficult decision, in the interest of the health of our patrons, staff and community, to close operations until April 5. We are planning for Daisy, which opened last night, to reopen April 7 for a two week extended run, closing on April 19.”

The company says box office staff will work with patrons to re-book tickets for Daisy. “For those subscribers and single ticket holders unable to attend during the revised schedule, we will offer a credit for up to 18 months for future GCTC season performances to be used by the patron or a guest of their choice.”

The Gladstone Theatre has ended to run of the production Dancing at Lughnasa early on March 15. An announcement on more schedule changes is coming.

On Thursday night the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra board decided to cancel the final two concerts of the season on March 30 and May 4.

“This was a very difficult decision for our board to make. However, with some 14 rehearsals scheduled in March, April and May to prepare for the March and May performances, the board decided cancelling would be the most prudent action to support mitigation of the spread of the novel coronavirus and to reduce risk for students, musicians, staff, partners, contractors and patrons. We trust you understand this decision, you may even be seeing similar arrangements for your own organization. 

The OSO will offer ways, she said, “to donate ticket costs to support the orchestra, to apply tickets to a future concert, or to request a refund.  

“This is clearly not the way we saw our 2019-20 season happening. We nonetheless look forward to continuing the planning for an exciting 2020-21,” the statement added.

The virus is even catching Ottawa performers such as singer-songwriter Lynne Hanson. She is now scrambling, with her band, to get home from Holland after the cancellation of six concerts. And she’s wondering about the fate of a U.K. tour that begins in mid-April.

She said in a facebook messenger exchange with ARTSFILE that “we are heading to Amsterdam airport to try and get home.” She said she couldn’t get a ticket online before March 22. And a call to Air Canada was on hold for two hours before it was dropped.

She said she was prepared to stay if she has to but knows that whatever happens “this is going to be brutal for me.”

The NAC’s Deacon added in the centre’s statement that he believed the “decision is the right thing to do to keep our community safe and healthy. Our audience expects nothing less of us. We take comfort in knowing that the NAC and its dedicated staff will be doing their part to help reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rest assured we will make every effort to accommodate our patrons and artists at this difficult time.”

The NAC decision means:

• All ticketed performances and free public events are cancelled;

• Events booked through the food and beverage department (conferences, meetings) are cancelled;

• The centre’s public spaces will remain accessible although there will be no programming;

• The NAC’s 1 Elgin restaurant will close.

The centre says that tickets for cancelled performances will be exchanged or refunded. For more information: or call 1-844-985-2787

The NAC isn’t the only casualty of the virus. Ottawa’s annual poetry festival has been postponed.

In a statement VERSeOttawa, the body that hosts the event, said “as an international festival with robust attendance, we are cognizant of the increased risks large gatherings can hold.

“The health and safety of our poets, audiences, and volunteers remain our first priority. Though we are deeply disappointed, we strive to honour our responsibility to our supporters and their communities.”

The organizers will announce new dates later this spring and says purchased tickets will be refunded. For more information, the organizers say see

Other organizations are examining their options and more is expected to be revealed later today.

Share Post
Written by

Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.