Fundraisers, opera, symphony impacted by the spread of COVID-19 |

Fundraisers, opera, symphony impacted by the spread of COVID-19

Supporters of the Yampa Valley Autism Program gathered for the local nonprofit’s inaugural Masquerade Ball in fall 2008. The ball benefiting services and programs provided by the Autism Program, has become an annual tradition in Steamboat Springs. Yampa Valley Autism announced this week that the ball is being canceled due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Courtesy Photo

Editor’s note: If you have an event that has been cancelled or postponed, email This post was updated at 7:12 p.m.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The impacts of COVID-19 are being felt across the country, and Steamboat Springs is not exempt.

On Wednesday, March 13, Lisa Lorenz, executive director of the Yampa Valley Autism Program, announced the nonprofit’s Masquerade Ball, which was scheduled for April 4 at Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs, has been canceled. Lorenz was the first event organizer to contact Steamboat Pilot & Today about an event cancellation linked to the coronavirus.

The event is a huge fundraiser for the locally run program that provides resources and direct services to individuals and families living with autism or other disorders with the goal of cultivating their abilities and maximizing quality of life. The Masquerade Ball has been held the past 12 years and raises about $50,000 annually for the local program. Lorenz said that represents about 15% of the organization’s yearly budget.

“It’s just a really, really fun party, and people really look forward to it,” Lorenz said. “Some people go all out with a costume, so it’s really festive.”

The event also gives the Yampa Valley Autism Program a chance to present an informational video about students and the organization’s programs.

“Our students even do a performance that is really heartwarming and fun,” Lorenz said. “It takes a huge amount of planning; we start planning in September.”

In place of the annual fundraiser, Lorenz said they’ll be holding No-Masquerade, No-Show fundraiser, featuring an online silent auction.

“We’re hoping that all of the corporate sponsors who have committed will stay committed,” Lorenz said. “We hope that they understand this is a really important part of our budget for the year, and that it’s more about supporting the cause, our kids and the programming than being about the event.”

The Yampa Valley Autism Program isn’t the only local organization to cancel events and programs in response to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Steamboat Opera will cancel its Opera in the Schools program, which serves 1,000 youth each year. It was scheduled to be held March 16 to 20 at Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools, Steamboat Springs Middle School, Emerald Mountain School, Mountain Village Montessori Charter School and North Routt Community Charter School.

Opera Steamboat Executive Director Melodie Querry said the program may be rescheduled next fall, but no final decisions have been made. At this time, Opera Steamboat did not want to bring in people from other communities who could possibly spread COVID-19 in local schools.

“That just didn’t seem like a prudent thing to do,” Querry said.

Opera Steamboat also has canceled a mini-opera production of “Romeo & Juliet Through the Ages,” which was scheduled to be held March 22 at Bud Werner Memorial Library, as well as a visit from Colorado composer Leanna Kirchoff and New York-based librettist Rachel J. Peters, who are working on an opera based on the life of Cookie Lockhart.

Querry said Opera Steamboat will continue to work on its summer festival,  which runs July 20 to Aug. 16. That series will include “Company” by Stephen Sondheim, “Ariadne auf Naxos” by Richard Strauss and “The Three Feathers” by Lori Laitman.

The Steamboat Symphony Orchestra has postponed its Immersion Weekend, which included three days of music education and concerts. The program was scheduled to take place this weekend, but Executive Director Jennifer Lee Robinson said the decision was made in the best interest of the students.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, Strings Music Festival announced it was suspending all of its programs through April 1.

“Some performances have already been rescheduled, some should be rescheduled in the near future, and at least one has been cancelled outright,” said Strings Executive Director Elissa Greene in an email message to ticket holders. 

For rescheduled shows, original tickets will be honored at the new date and time. Full refunds will be given if a show is cancelled or if the ticket holder can’t make the new date.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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