NEWBURYPORT — The Firehouse Center for the Arts announced Tuesday it is canceling all events until fall to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The decision includes the cancellation of more than 100 upcoming events — including full theater productions, concerts, dance events, documentary screenings, and youth productions and classes — totaling at most 12,000 empty seats and an income loss of more than $300,000 for the nonprofit arts center.

John Moynihan, executive director of the Firehouse in Market Square, said that while the nationwide state of emergency will likely be lifted this summer, he and other Firehouse leaders believe residents will still be concerned about contracting coronavirus.

“We realized that once the coronavirus has cleared up, the arts are going to hold such an important part of getting the country back to where it needs to be, but that people are still going to have concerns and they are not going to want to be sitting in a theater where they can’t have proper social distancing,” Moynihan said. “We wanted to give people time to get comfortable sitting close to each other.”

Mayor Donna Holaday issued a local state of emergency two weeks ago and has repeatedly urged residents to stay home and, if they have to go out, to practice social distancing and avoid being in groups.

Moynihan said leaders of the organization also feel obliged to make the health of patrons, performers, volunteers and staff members the top priority and that an extended closure of the theater would be “the best way to help flatten the curve and prevent the spread of coronavirus.”

“But ultimately, our mission is to make sure everybody stays safe and that we can continue to build upon the successes that we’ve had and come back stronger,” Moynihan said.

While the Firehouse has streamlined and reduced its expenses to the best of its ability, fixed monthly expenses still total $40,000. The organization is accepting donations to its Phoenix Campaign, which was created to help the arts center get through the coronavirus pandemic.

Moynihan said he looks forward to reopening the Firehouse in the fall and kicking off the 2020-21 season with its first show in November.

“We’re excited to be taking this time to recalibrate and refocus, and to ensure that we’re coming back in a way that will better serve the community,” Moynihan said.

Anyone who purchased tickets to an event during this period can contact to discuss options.

To donate to the Firehouse’s Phoenix Campaign, visit

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