Centro’s 3 most historic theaters endangered when income drops to zero

José Peón Contreras, Armando Manzanero and Daniel Ayala theaters struggle, just like the businesses around them

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Merida, Yucatan — Just like many of the businesses around them, the Centro Histórico’s most iconic theaters are idle.

Not only are concerts and plays canceled. The theaters are missing out on the millions of pesos spent every year on school graduation events.

That cuts out a huge chunk of revenue on which monumental landmarks such as the Teatro Peón Contreras depend.

Although the coronavirus health contingency period is due to end May 30, it is possible that classes will resume June 1, which would delay in the end-of-course activities and graduations.

Yucatan’s Ministry of Culture and Arts, or Sedeculta, announced that beginning March 14 that all the activities and events scheduled in the José Peón Contreras, Armando Manzanero and Daniel Ayala theaters were suspended until further notice.

These three theaters, known to the general public for a variety of cultural events, also cater to preschool, primary and some secondary schools to celebrate graduations or the arrival of summer vacation. Hundreds of relatives, teachers, principals and educational authorities have attended.

And they take in up to 25,000 pesos for each of those celebrations, which last until September.

Preparations for these festivals and final events began at the beginning of the year when parents bust their budgets on head counts, attire, entertainers, caterers and spaces.

Teatro Daniel Ayala on Calle 60 in Merida’s Centro Historico.

In accordance with the 2019-2020 school calendar, established by the Ministry of Education in Yucatan (Segey), classes end July 6. But that date has been thrown into doubt as coronavirus infections continue.

Epidemiology experts say the impact coronavirus in Mexico will begin to decrease between July and August, and even more considerably in October, assuming infections peak in May and June.

Since March 14, all activities and events scheduled at the Teatro José Peón Contreras have been suspended. Photo: File

This has generated an uncertain panorama for theaters, social reception venues and even for the recently remodeled Yucatan Siglo XXI Convention Center, which is now set aside as a possible hospital overflow station.

The revenue loss is painful. In 2019, Siglo XXI spaces fetched between 17,000 and 25,000 pesos, and it was completely booked between the end of May until September.

Last year the Teatro Armando Manzanero and Péon Contreras — French neoclassical opera house that is home to the Yucatan Symphony — each fetched 25,000 pesos nightly.

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