By: KDKA’s Meghan Schiller
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Stages are dark across Pittsburgh’s Cultural District.
Theatergoers enjoyed a final curtain call at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts on March 13 before the coronavirus pandemic brought everything to a halt.
But with the parking lots as empty as the theaters, that’s a financial problem for Pittsburgh.
“More than 3,000 individual events and activities have been canceled since this thing started,” said Kevin McMahon, the president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
It’s an expensive intermission for the district.
“Just the amusement tax alone is often $1.5 million or more directly into the city and that’s just the amusement tax, that doesn’t count all of the parking,” McMahon said.
The parking rakes in another $1 million for the city. So with shows canceled, the holidays will look different for Pittsburgh CLO.
“When we do a Christmas carol, 7,000 school children come every year, 90 schools,” said Mark Fleischer with the Pittsburgh CLO.
A 28-year tradition for the CLO and children in the area is now turning virtual.
“And for many, it’s the first theater experience they have. So we’re taking that very seriously and trying to work with the union and also the schools to see if there’s a way we can virtually put it in their classrooms,” said Fleischer.
But the opera will still happen this fall.
“Our first show, “Cosi Fan Tuttle,” is going to be set in the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic so everybody is going to be wearing masks,” said Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn.
And Hahn told KDKA’s Meghan Schiller that the audience will play a role in keeping everyone safe.
“Temperature checking, very careful spacing, very specific seating, only the allowed number of people in the building,” Hahn said.