Zoe Berg

The Schwarzman Center’s grand opening, originally slated for the start of this semester, has been postponed to 2021.

According to Schwarzman Center Director of Marketing and Communications Maurice Harris, the University delayed the opening of the center because its functions would center on gatherings and performances — activities out of line with current social distancing guidelines. Harris said his office will announce updates to the specific reopening schedule as the public health situation changes.

While the physical building will remain closed for the time being, the team behind Schwarzman Center will host virtual programming throughout the semester. 

“Being safe during this time of Covid can feel isolating, so I hope the Schwarzman Center’s new website becomes a digital space for connecting and creating, where important stories are told and fulfilling relationships are formed,” Executive Director Garth Ross wrote in an email to the News. “And when we can eventually gather over a meal inside the Schwarzman Center, that’s still what I’m looking forward to.”

Some of the center’s digital offerings include the web series “One,” which highlights collaborative approaches to the arts. Launched in April, some of the first episodes highlight creative and academic student works that were impacted by social distancing. Harris noted that the series’ title of “One” is a reference to “One Yale” — the key tenet of University President Peter Salovey’s oft-professed leadership approach. Harris added that the Schwarzman Center website will be updated with more offerings in the coming weeks.

Kenneth Xu ’21, who works on strategic projects at the center, told the News that his colleagues have had to think outside out of the box for new approaches to programming.

“Because a lot of the magic behind a community space like Schwarzman Center (the ability to host large events, meetings, meals, etc.) is also what makes it so hard to operate in light of COVID, our staff has had to get creative in order to adapt,” Xu wrote in an email to the News. “But I’m hopeful that the Center’s virtual programming can still be entertaining or educational — or both — for the Yale community.”

Xu added that he is excited to work with the center’s Advisory Board, which includes people like renowned opera singer Renée Fleming — who received an honorary degree from Yale at virtual commencement 2020.

According to Xu, since Fleming can no longer perform around the globe due to the pandemic, she has instead launched a webinar series called “Music and Mind Live” as part of the center’s virtual programming, exploring the impact of the arts on brain health. 

“That sort of interdisciplinary initiative is representative of the types of programming that Schwarzman Center can offer in collaboration with leading artists outside the Yale community,” Xu wrote.

Since campus closed in March, Schwarzman Center staff, like many other University employees, have been working remotely.

Still, Harris said the center’s team was able to adapt to public health guidelines because the center had already been developing online content before the pandemic struck.

“Today we also recognize that our online platforms can serve the University by delivering programs safely while physical proximity is a consideration,” Harris wrote.

Other members of the center’s Advisory Board include SNL creator Lorne Michaels and Executive Producer of the Apollo Theater Kamilah Forbes.