City museum exhibits, dance recitals, quinceañeras backed up by virus

HARLINGEN — Hopefully the Harlingen Arts and Heritage Museum won’t accumulate too much dust during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Joel Humphries is director of arts and entertainment for the city, and that includes oversight of the museum, the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium and Casa de Amistad.

Like other city venues, Humphries and his staff are awaiting the decision by city officials to loosen the shutdown and allow them to re-open on what probably will be some sort of continued social distancing.

“Right now, we’re still trying to play it safe,” Humphries said Monday. “So we’re still sort of watching what the rest of the state does and listening to Judge (Eddie) Treviño’s press conferences and announcements. In situations we’ve had to ask for clarification, we have.”

The major museum exhibit this spring was to have been the Chisholm Trail, chronicling one of the nation’s great cattle drive routes from South Texas to Kansas in the late 19th century.

The exhibit, which is on loan, was scheduled to open March 24 and run through May 10.

“I’m kind of disappointed that the Chisholm Trail exhibit is not going to get much time here,” Humphries said. “It looks like pretty much the whole, or at least a good portion of the 90-ish days that we arranged for it be here, is going to tick past us before it gets too much traction.”

At the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium, the usual run of dance recitals also has been interrupted.

“The other thing that I’m seeing that’s really impacted on the auditorium side is this is the time of year when folks start looking at the end of the year dance recitals, these dance studios and these schools, and so all of that has had to be deferred.

“We’ve been talking to the studio owners almost every day about trying to reschedule,” he said. “ We haven’t had a lot of cancellations, the folks want to do what they do. Really, what we’ve been doing is talking to them about moving it down the calendar.”

At Casa de Amistad, all events including popular quinceañeras also have been postponed for the time being.

“But again, we all know how people are, and when you get a family in the same room tougher, there’s going to be hugging and kissing and all that sort of stuff,” Humphries said, referring to social distancing. “The good thing about us, or what I can see that makes me a little bit hopeful, is that we’re not having people cancel, we are having people postpone.”

The city’s arts and entertainment director says his non-museum facilities do have a window of opportunity to make up for lost good times.

July and August are typically slow months for these venues, and Humphries believes many families will opt to hold these events during those months when the coronavirus pandemic will hopefully be at bay.

“I’m hopeful that we will turn the corner pretty quick here, and as these folks come in who have postponed these days, maybe it won’t be quite as much a sock in the wallet as it could be because what we’re doing is move them to traditionally a not a very busy time, and hopefully we’ll get caught up both on the side of getting the performances presented but also on the revenue side as well.”