Arts On Hold For Now

Arts On Hold For Now

WAC, SoNA, APT postpone until 2021


There are bright spots in the bad news that came July 7. The Walton Arts Center, the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas and Arkansas Public Theatre are all looking for ways to keep the arts alive on their stages while still taking the greatest precautions against covid-19.

To that end, the Walton Arts Center announced that all Broadway shows — and any performance with an anticipated audience of more than 200 people — will be postponed until January.

On the heels of that news release, the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas announced it would also postpone its performances at the Walton Arts Center until 2021 .

And up the road in Rogers, Arkansas Public Theatre canceled the remainder of its 2020 shows.

“It will be some time before we can resume business as usual at our venues,” Peter Lane, president and chief executive officer of the Walton Arts Center, said in a news release. “Because each show involves several hundred cast and crew members and draws thousands of audience members, it is almost impossible to socially distance and remain safe. The health and safety of our audience, performers and staff are our top priorities.”

The news release from the symphony said the first three concerts of the 2020-21 season — ‘Masterworks I: Mozart and Beethoven’ on Oct. 17, ‘A Very SoNA Christmas’ on Dec. 12 and ‘The Snowman: A Family Concert’ on Dec. 13 — won’t happen as originally planned.

And after rescheduling several times, Steve Martin’s “Meteor Shower,” intended to open in the summer musical slot at APT, has been canceled for 2020, along with the rest of the slate of shows.

At the Walton Arts Center, the 2020-21 season lineup, scheduled to start in September, had been finalized, but only shows in the P&G Broadway Series had been announced.

“My Fair Lady” has been rescheduled from September to July 28-Aug. 1, 2021; “An Officer and a Gentleman” is now set for March 30-April 4, 2021. The center is still working on rescheduling “Mean Girls,” originally set for November, and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” originally on the December calendar.

The rest of the Broadway Series remains as scheduled, with “Fiddler on the Roof” in April, “Come From Away” in May and “Freestyle Love Supreme” in June.

The announcements don’t mean that any of those companies will go completely dark.

“The great news is we will still be offering some performances for smaller audiences in areas where we can space out and follow safety guidelines,” confirmed WAC spokeswoman Jennifer Wilson. “These could include limited-run movies or documentaries, performances by local artists or by artists originally scheduled to play in Starr Theater. More details will be available about these opportunities soon.”

On the symphony side, the news release said orchestra management will use “the summer months to consider new and innovative ways to bring you the music you love, possibly through reimagined fall performances for smaller audiences with appropriate safety measures in place.”

And Ed McClure, artistic director at Arkansas Public Theatre, said the “Remixed Season 35” will offer eight shows in eight months, including seven nonmusicals starting with “Meteor Shower” on Jan. 14 plus the musical “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” next July and August.

Finally, TheatreSquared, the professional company in Fayetteville, will be “ready to welcome audiences back as soon as the local health circumstances permit, and we’re planning to resume performances this fall,” according to Executive Director Martin Miller. “The safety of our artists and audiences is paramount, and we’ve instituted rigorous new electrostatic sanitation along with the option to live-stream our performances in high definition from home. I think when the time is right, we’ll all be grateful to have live theater in our lives again.”

With the loss of almost a full year’s revenue, the Walton Arts Center will be trying to make up a shortfall of close to $1 million and has created the Ghost Light Recovery Fund to encourage donations. The name refers to the theater tradition of leaving a single light — a ghost light — burning when a stage is dark to light the way for the next show.

“Community members have already shown their support for our organization by donating their tickets to canceled shows instead of requesting a full refund and by making a one-time gift,” Wilson says. “Those ticket donations alone totaled more than $46,000 to date. We’ve also had many of our corporate sponsors and individuals make significant gifts to the recovery fund already. Every gift, from a simple ticket donation to a legacy gift, makes an impact. To date we have raised more than $534,000.”


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Categories: In The News