How one theater company is coping with coronavirus : The Indicator from Planet Money How a theater company in Philadelphia is reacting to the existential threat posed by the coronavirus.

An Artful Pivot

An Artful Pivot

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Amilcar Orfali/Getty Images
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - APRIL 23: Seats of Teatro Colon stand empty as events have been cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Amilcar Orfali/Getty Images)
Amilcar Orfali/Getty Images

The performing arts industry — an industry worth tens of billions of dollars — has been hit harder than almost any other part of the economy. Its very business model requires what the lockdowns have been designed to prevent: live audience events, where people are packed into enclosed spaces, like theaters and concert halls and opera houses. It will be some time before people can gather in that way again.

Most performing arts organizations operate on tight margins at the best of times. And live arts performances are usually quite speculative endeavors, financially. So the business shutdowns necessitated by the response to the spread of coronavirus have put these kinds of companies under particular strain.

Still, as in other industries, performing arts companies are adjusting and innovating in a bid to make it through. Today we look at one company, the Wilma Theater, to see how it's responding to this existential threat. And how its story reflects the struggles of performing arts organizations all across the country.

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