Omicron shakes up Bay Area arts calendar

San Francisco Ballet in Balanchine's Serenade // Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Dreams of the triumphant return of a robust live arts and entertainment calendar in 2022 have been so far quashed, thanks to the omicron variant. The surge of COVID-19 cases in the Bay Area continues to disrupt plans for in-person events in the new year.

The San Francisco Ballet announced on Tuesday that its 89th repertory season gala — the company’s first in-person gala in two years, originally scheduled for Jan. 27 — has been postponed two months to March 24.

Sketchfest 2022 has been postponed indefinitely

Also, Oakland’s monthly First Fridays arts festival, which just relaunched in the streets of the Uptown/Northgate neighborhood in October, has canceled this Friday’s event. First Fridays are scheduled to resume 5-9 p.m. Feb. 4 along Telegraph Avenue between Grand Avenue and 27th Street in Oakland.

Both organizations are following in the footsteps of San Francisco Sketchfest, the renowned comedy festival celebrating its 20th anniversary, which was set to launch its two weeks of in-person performances and events Friday but has been postponed indefinitely.

The San Francisco Symphony, meanwhile, is not pausing its performances, but both the Symphony and the Ballet have announced that — as per new city guidelines — starting on Feb. 1, the organizations will require eligible attendees entering Davies Symphony Hall or War Memorial Opera House to provide proof of booster vaccines received at least one week prior to the event. This expands upon the organizations’ current policies that require attendees ages 12 and up to present proof of full vaccination. Those under age 12 are required to show either proof of either full vaccination or negative COVID tests. Attendees are also required to wear masks while inside the venues.

Other than the new date, the SF Ballet’s plans for the opening-night gala will remain unchanged. The red carpet and “Sparkling Stroll” are scheduled for 5 p.m. March 24 at War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, which will be followed by the “La Grande Fête” gala performance at 6 p.m. The one-night only program, curated by outgoing artistic director Helgi Tomasson, includes world premieres of ballets by Alexei Ratmansky, Yuri Possokhov and Myles Thatcher, plus the stage premiere of a pas de deux from Danielle Rowe’s “Wooden Dimes,” one of the ballet films created during the pandemic. The party then moves to San Francisco City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, at 7:30 p.m. for the gala dinner and “ENCORE!” gala reception.

Gala dinner and performance-only ticketholders will be admitted to the rescheduled March 24 gala events. To donate tickets, exchange them for a special event later in the 2022 season or request a refund, gala dinner ticketholders should contact SF Ballet’s special events office at by Feb. 1. Performance-only ticketholders who would like to refund or exchange their tickets should contact SF Ballet ticket services at (415) 865-2000 or by Feb. 1.

For more information

San Francisco Ballet:

San Francisco Symphony:

Oakland First Fridays:

SF Sketchfest:

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