Art & Soul: The Performance Arts - UMS Cancels The Rest Of Its Season Due To Coronavirus

Mar 26, 2020

UMS President Matthew VanBesien
Credit University Musical Society /

Another impact of the current health pandemic is on our cultural life.  In this edition of "Art and Soul," WEMU’s Lisa Barry talks with Matthew VanBesien, president of the University Musical Society at the University of Michigan, about what they’ve had to do in light of COVID-19 and orders to stay home and social distance from each other.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, UMS had to cancel the rest of its season about a week and a half ago, effectively canceling five weeks of planned performances in Ann Arbor and Detroit.

UMS president Matthew VanBesien said the cancelled performances spanned the full gamut of their planned programming this season.  But he said it was important to do so as they wanted to be "part of the collective effort to keep everyone safe at this time."

VanBesien said they are also concerned about the impact on all artists from the new emerging performers to the more experienced artists and all the other people who help out and participate in making these performances possible.  He said they are now actively working on planning their next season and expect to announce what's coming up in the next few weeks.  He said they were very thankful for the many arts patrons who donated the money spent on tickets for the now-cancelled performances back to UMS, saying, "Remember.  Like supporting WEMU, supporting the arts is important now more than ever."

VanBesien adding "the arts have to remain and be strong because it's part of what makes us human ,and it's part of what makes a great and civil society." 

New York Philharmonic String Quartet
Credit University Musical Society /


American Ballet Theatre's "Swan Lake"
Credit University Musical Society /

Credit University Musical Society /

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at