opera house

The 2021 Holiday Concert Series at the Sheridan Opera House has been canceled due to the recent spike in local COVID-19 cases. (Photo by Eva Thomas/Telluride Daily Planet)

“#NoThankYouOmicron” aptly describes the feeling around the Sheridan Art's Foundation cancelation of the 2021 Holiday Concert Series, as the hashtag was used on the Sheridan Opera House's Instagram in announcing the change of plans Sunday. The cancelation was a tough decision for organizers to make and one they did not take lightly.

"The decision was definitely not easy to make as this is our largest fundraiser of the winter for our nonprofit, and we had hundreds of people counting on entertainment. Ultimately, producing crowded events indoors was just too risky for the public, our employees and the artists this week," said Maggie Stevens, the opera house's PR and marketing director.

At the end of last week, the series was ready to go with only a few minor schedule changes. The John Oates, Jewel, Kiltro and Yonder Mountain String Band shows remained on the calendar. However, over the weekend, COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in San Miguel County. Stevens explained that while they are concerned for the safety of musicians, staff and the public, they have had multiple staff members test positive for COVID, which leaves them short-staffed for one of the busiest weeks of the season.

Originally, the series was set to kick off Sunday with the Warren Miller film “Winter Starts Now,” cosponsored by Bootdoctors. However, last week the showing was rescheduled to February, citing staffing shortages.

A performance by Oates with Nashville guitarist Guthrie Trapp was to kick off the series Monday. Oates is most famous for his work with rock duo Hall & Oates, and Trapp is one of Nashville's greatest guitar players. The night was sure to be filled with songs and stories from two legendary musicians.

"Although I'm disappointed, I understand their decision to cancel/reschedule all shows at the Sheridan. We will come back as soon as it's possible," Trapp said.

According to Stevens, along with the Warren Miller film, the opera house plans to reschedule the Oates Kiltro shows in 2022. As for Jewel and Yonder Mountain String Band, Stevens said while they do not have anything scheduled right now, this could change as the year progresses.

"We are not planning on rescheduling them at the moment. We would love to have them back eventually. It just depends on open dates on our calendar, the artists' availability and our other already scheduled events for the rest of the season," she said.

The cancelation of Jewel's two Tuesday performances was an especially tough decision, Stevens explained.

"Jewel made the call for her show, and we fully supported that," she added.

The shows were a fundraiser for the Sheridan Arts Foundation and Jewel's Inspiring Children Foundation. Through the Jewel Never Broken program, the foundation assists "at-risk youth and families in need with housing issues, homelessness, or basic essentials including food, clothing, etc.," according to the website, inspiringchildren.org.

While other parts of the country may not be experiencing the same spike in COVID cases as San Miguel County, she hopes ticketholders will respect their decision and "understand in a small town how scary it is to see these numbers."

On their official Instagram page, Yonder Mountain String Band released a statement on Sunday, echoing the opera house’s message.

"In the light of the recent COVID surge in San Miguel County, we've made the difficult decision to cancel our New Year's run at the Sheridan Opera House. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but the health and safety of our fans and the Telluride community are our number one priority. If you wish to receive a refund, please contact the ticket outlet where your ticket was purchased. Rescheduled dates will be announced soon! We wish you all a safe, healthy, and happy New Year," read the post.

Ticketholders will be notified in the next week through email regarding their refunds. Those who would like to forgo their refund can email emma@sheridanoperahouse.com. Ticket purchasers who do not want a refund will receive a tax letter for their ticket amounts.

More shows, scheduled before the series cancelation, will be announced Jan. 4. Stevens encouraged people to "stay tuned!"