HILTON HEAD, SC (WSAV) – As we all deal with the fallout from COVID-19, one of the hardest hit areas may be the arts.
But one Lowcountry non-profit found ways to stay viable, and open, during these tough times.
Tuesday is opening night for “Noise Off” at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina.
It is the first show inside the theater with patrons in the last 9 months.
“We started working on this return last March,” explains Arts Center CEO Jeffrey Reeves.
100 shows were canceled at the Arts Center, almost a million dollars in revenue lost from the non-profit agency.
But instead of shutting down forever, the Center decided to look at this pandemic as an opportunity instead.
“Our favorite word at the time was pivot. We are looking to do new and exciting things while we were on this hiatus,” said Andrea Gannon, Vice President of Marketing for the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. “We really wanted to keep in communication with our audience so we did newsletters we did a cyber school of art, all our summer camps went online, believe it or not, we had a ton of response. We had kids all the way from California.”
Then the Center added in virtual performances for online viewing and behind the scenes events to keep people engaged until it was time to come back.
“It was a very emotional experience for us just doing the streaming experience,” said Reeves. “Now I can’t tell you how much it means to get back to the business that we love to do for this community.”
A community that will see some important changes for this season, which is important when almost 80% of national theatergoers are more worried about safety than the show.
Socially distanced seats are marked off masks worn by everyone, both in the audience and backstage with less than 50% capacity.
Barriers to keep socially distanced even in the lobby.
Everything is designed to be COVID-free for the full 26 days of this show, and hopefully more to come. So the lights can stay on without any accidents.
“Whole half of this building is fogged daily before any audience members come in,” said Reeves. “A full hour and a half two hours before and the space is sealed, then the whole set is fogged, backstage is fogged. We have air control for the atmosphere of the theater is purged on a regular basis.”
The staff hopes everyone will now come back to smile, laugh and enjoy.
“We want them to feel confident that they can come to this space and we have done everything humanly possible to ensure everyone’s safety.
“We are happy to welcome them back, we want them back and we need all of our Arts Center family to rejoin us in this house,” said Reeves.
To find out more about the safety precautions and shows, just go to https://www.artshhi.com/