“The show must not go on!”
People have been screaming it from the rooftops in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak that has gripped much of the planet, but Broadway theaters in New York City remained determined to ride out the pandemic, insisting that ramped-up cleaning routines and Purell dispensers in lobbies were enough to keep audience members safe from COVID-19.
Now, they will have no choice but to close their doors. After an order from the state’s governor banned all public gatherings over 500 people, Broadway theaters are being forced to cease operations for at least a month. To the thousands of people employed by the industry—everyone from actors and stage technicians to ushers and concession workers—the move is a crushing blow, even if the writing has been on the walls for several days that cities and states are prepared to implement increasingly drastic measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Ticket buyers are also in the lurch, with untold thousands of would-be theater attendees wondering when (or if) they will be offered a refund for the good money they spent on seats that will go empty. Many have taken to Twitter, beseeching such companies as Ticketmaster and Telecharge with refund requests. A number of users have described waiting endlessly on hold or sending DMs that went unanswered.
So what can you do if you bought a ticket? The Broadway League, the trade association that represents the industry, said ticket holders should contact their “point of purchase,” which means you’re at the whim of the companies you bought the tickets from.
Part of the confusion will likely stem from whether or not these shows are considered “canceled” or “postponed,” as that designation can affect refund policies. We reached out to the major ticket sellers to ask how they’re handling this situation. Here’s what they told us:
Reached for comment, a Ticketmaster spokesperson referred Fast Company to its recent coronavirus blog post. According to the post, customers will be refunded for canceled events and do not need to take action to receive the refunds. “It’s Ticketmaster’s standing policy to automatically refund the full cost of the ticket and fees to the original purchaser’s credit card.” Find it here.
This service, owned by the Shubert Organization, said credit cards of affected ticket holders will be automatically refunded. A spokesperson confirmed that the policy would include “tickets from Telecharge for a Broadway performance between March 12, 2020 and April 12, 2020.” See the announcement here.
A spokesperson for this service was unclear if the shows would be considered postponed or canceled, but it’s likely the latter. That means customers should get a refund. “In general if an event is canceled we refund the order,” the spokesperson said. See the refund policy here.
The company did not respond to a request for comment, but said on Twitter that affected customers will be offered a voucher “worth 110% of your original order.” See the full announcement here.
Theatre Development Fund
TDF was relatively quick to explain its policy on Twitter, saying affected ticket holders will be automatically refunded. The reverse charge may take a few days to appear on your card. See the full announcement here.
This story is developing and has been updated with additional responses from ticket sellers.