Great Performances: The Arts Interrupted

Air date: 05/14/2021

Premieres Friday, May 14 at 9 p.m. on PBS, and the PBS Video app

How have the arts been managing during the COVID-19 pandemic? Arts organizations across America share their survival stories, along with examples of innovative performances, from COVID-19 inspired theater to site-specific operas. Learn how the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have impacted America’s emerging artists in this new documentary hosted by GRAMMY, Emmy and Tony nominee Vanessa Williams.

#PBSForTheArts is a multiplatform campaign that celebrates the resiliency of the arts in America during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown and reopening, and features new performing arts content filmed within the constraints of the pandemic. The collection of #PBSForTheArts programs will be available for broadcast on PBS and streaming on and the PBS Video app. Curated conversation and digital shorts will be available on PBS social media platforms using #PBSForTheArts.

Featuring interviews with:

  • Oskar Eustis, The Public Theater
  • Jordana Leigh, Senior Director of Artistic Programming, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
  • Simone Eccleston, Director of Hip Hop Culture and Contemporary Music, Kennedy Center
  • Kamilah Forbes, Executive Producer, Apollo Theater
  • Ralph Remington, Director of Cultural Affairs, San Francisco Arts Commission
  • Danny Burstein, Tony-nominated actor, “Moulin Rouge”
  • Alejandra Duque Cifuentes, Executive Director, Dance/NYC
  • Somi, Composer & Musician
  • Anne Huang, Executive Director, World Arts West
  • Janice Sinden, President & CEO, Colorado Center for the Performing Arts
  • Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr., GRAMMY-winning performers


Featuring performances from:

  • “Moulin Rouge”
  • Renée Fleming & Vanessa Williams
  • Yo-Yo Ma
  • Ballet X
  • Somi with Alte Big Band
  • Michigan Opera Theatre
  • Rosanne Cash & John Leventhal
  • Scott Patterson

Produced and directed by Akisa Omulepu, Great Performances: The Arts Interrupted is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC. Great Performances is a production of The WNET Group. Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer and David Horn is Executive Producer.

Major funding for Great Performances: The Arts Interrupted is provided by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, Jody and John Arnhold, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, the Thea Petschek Iervolino Foundation, Rosalind P. Walter, The Starr Foundation, the Seton Melvin Charitable Trust, the Estate of Worthington Mayo-Smith, Ellen and James S. Marcus and PBS.


Vanessa Williams. Photo by Rod Spicer.