Miami-Dade’s Arsht Center is telling ticket holders to this weekend’s “ Hamilton” shows that no refunds will be issued during a coronavirus emergency declared Thursday morning by Mayor Carlos Gimenez that has so far included the emptying of arenas, stadiums and fairgrounds.
“At this time, most performances are continuing as scheduled and refunds are not being offered,” Arsht Center president Johann Zietsman said in an email sent to patrons of the theater Thursday evening. “We will continue to follow guidance from local government health officials, and will implement any new directives from those officials swiftly.”
UPDATE: On Friday, Miami-Dade announced the closing of the Arsht Center and the theater’s management said all shows were canceled through April 5. Refunds would be available for those shows, Arsht said.
The decision to stick with a no-refund policy follows a string of historic cancellations nationwide and locally. The NBA suspended its season Wednesday night, colleges scratched the March Madness basketball tournament Thursday and Walt Disney World announced its planned closure Thursday night. Broadway also decided to “go dark” in New York as part of that city’s efforts to stop COVID-19 spread.
Gov. Ron DeSantis came to Miami on Thursday morning and urged Florida residents to combat COVID-19 by exercising “social distancing” — a practice of staying six feet away from people and avoiding “congregate settings,” according to federal guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Locally, Gimenez ordered an end to concerts at the AmericanAirlines Arena and the shuttering of the county Youth Fair.
The Arsht decision to continue with “Hamilton” and refuse refunds brought outrage from ticket holders and others. Hamilton actor Jon Viktor Corpus called the approach “disgraceful” in a Twitter post Thursday night.
“I’m in the show. It’s disgraceful,” Corpus, who plays John Laurens in the traveling “Hamilton” show, wrote in response to a media post with Zietsman’s coronavirus message to patrons. “The major concern is that the demographic of people most severely affected [by COVID-19] is the same demographic that comes to see our show.”
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The county-funded performance hall is run by a nonprofit, and the continuing with performances tracks with the county’s own cultural arm, which hasn’t scrapped shows. “We’re not there yet,” said Michael Spring, the Gimenez deputy who oversees theaters and cultural programs. “But we might get there.”
Suzette Espinosa Fuentes, vice president of communications at Arsht, said late Thursday the situation was “fluid” and that the center was reviewing its no-refund policy.
“Our standard policy is not to offer refunds,” she said. “But given the extenuating circumstances, we have been discussing options this week with guests who are concerned...Our box office is fielding a lot of questions, so we are asking everyone to be patient with us.”
Gimenez has the authority to close the Arsht Center and other indoor events, but chose not to on Thursday. His statement announcing the cancellation of the Youth Fair, arena concerts and spectator attendance at the Homestead speedway included a passage saying indoor events with much smaller attendance could be subject to a future crackdown. So the Arsht shows could still be canceled, but the show went on for Thursday night’s “Hamilton” performance.
David Auslander, a Miami lawyer, has six tickets for the Sunday matinee of “Hamilton” and wants his money back. He responded to Zietsman’s message with a plea to put public safety over ticket revenue.
“You know human nature. If a person buys an expensive ticket for a performance and can have no refund or credit — they WILL attend — fever, chills, or any other sign of infection,” Auslander wrote. “I would never, but many would. As a result, attending a large gathering at this time is ill advised.”
This article was updated to correct the status of the NBA season, which was suspended.