Due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and recent rise in cases in the region, the Helena Symphony has canceled the Benefit Concert at Montana Ting that was rescheduled for Saturday, 1 August 2020. Several weeks ago County health officials did approve the Symphony’s multi-page plan for effective social distancing, crowd management, proper food shields, extra crews for sanitation throughout the event, and additional parking for over 200 extra vehicles instead of the traditional busing used in the past.
This past week, Symphony staff met with senior health officials, and the health department strongly encouraged the Symphony to cancel the event. “Given the concerning and recent rise in cases of individuals contracting the virus, the health department said they discourage any gathering or event of more than 50 people,” explains Symphony Events Coordinator Katie Clark. “While our plan was praised for being proactive and well thought out and still within the Governor’s directives, the health officials said Phase Two did not anticipate gatherings over 50 (including staff or performers).”
Symphony has remained in regular communication with County health officials. County officials continue to partner with the Symphony and responded to the recent changes in their decision. “Reopening and staying open relies on personal responsibility, on practicing what we have learned over the last few months, such as physical distancing and wearing a face mask to protect ourselves and others,” explains Eric Merchant, Administrator of the Communicable Disease and Prevention Division of Lewis & Clark County. “Phase Two also relies on the Health Department being able to limit and contain disease through the identification and isolation of cases, contact tracing, and the quarantine of close contacts. We now have active disease in our community, that is the difference between now and two weeks ago. Large events provide an opportunity for things to get out of control, quickly.”
“We are grateful to the continued partnership and leadership of the health department,” explains Music Director Allan R. Scott. “The Symphony prioritizes the health of our patrons, staff, and musicians of the Orchestra & Chorale above the financial growth of the organization. While losing the revenue from this $150 per person red carpet event is a major loss for us, we are confident that our music-making is essential for the psychological, emotional, and spiritual healing of our community.”
The Helena Symphony is so grateful for the sponsors of the Benefit Concert at Montana Ting, especially Peter Sullivan, Melanie Reynolds & Bob Rowe, Rick Pyfer, Janice & Peter Bogy, Robert Peccia, NorthWestern Energy, Opportunity Bank, Five Star Leasing, Eagle Beverage, PayneWest Insurance, and Gaynell M. & David Bruck for their generosity and continued commitment to the Helena Symphony.
We are especially thankful to Susie & Ray Kuntz for their leadership and extraordinary gifts to the Helena Symphony and the Benefit Concert. Finally, Benefit Concert is made possible by acclaimed European actors Nick Wilder and Christine Mayn who own the Montana Ting estate. “Nick and Christine not only work tirelessly to ensure that their estate and property are beautiful, but they welcome hundreds of patrons, musicians, and staff to their home,” says Maestro Scott. “We are so grateful to all of these people who support the mission of the Helena Symphony.”
The Symphony encourages those that already purchased the $150 ticket for the Benefit Concert at Montana Ting to consider donating your tickets to the Symphony to help cover large amount of costs spent on the fundraising event. Ticket holders can also credit their ticket to next year’s Benefit Concert (Saturday, 26 June 2021), or, if requested, the Symphony will refund the tickets for the Benefit Concert. The Symphony will be contacting ticket holders to this event in the coming week.
Currently, the Helena Symphony has lost six major concerts and two fundraising events, resulting in a $245k loss due to cancelations because of the pandemic. “While the Helena Symphony has lost a significant amount of revenue, we remain financially healthy because of the support of the community and so many organizations,” explains Symphony President Patrick Keim. “In addition to several grants and federal loan programs, we still rely on the kindness of individuals in the Helena community. You can help ensure our music-making remains by supporting the Symphony during this time. If you had tickets to the Benefit Concert, please consider donating that cost. If you were not attending the event, please consider making a contribution to support the Symphony’s work.”
As the 2020-2021 Season approaches in September, the Symphony will be looking at many options for performances, including socially distanced seating for audience members and performers; live or recorded streaming performances; and other creative programming options for the immediate future, if needed. The Helena Symphony staff are in daily regular communication with the many levels of the Helena Symphony. The Symphony has over 200 individuals involved, including the 78 players of the Helena Symphony Orchestra, 110 singers of the Helena Symphony Chorale, 16 members of the staff, and 13 members of the Board of Directors. “We will continue to be in regular communication with the people internally, as well as staying in contact with senior public health officials, major donors, season partners, and all patrons,” explains Director of Patron Services Scott Kall.
“The Helena Symphony and the arts are here for these very trying times. We exist for the community, because of the community, and we look forward to keeping our music in the lives of those that need and want it. We are still here.” – Maestro Allan R. Scott