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Pandemic Creating 'Catastrophic Crisis' For Performing Arts Organizations

Clark State Community College Logo
Clark State Community College
A May 15, 2020 post on Clark State Performing Arts Center's FaceBook page shows the theatre's "ghost light" with the simple quote: "We'll reach up and rise again."

Statewide stay-at-home orders have been lifted but bans on large gatherings remain in place. That’s heavily impacting performance arts organizations that depend on large audiences and who have been closed now for months.

As organizations wait for a green light from Governor Mike DeWine to reopen, in the meantime, they’re finding other ways to serve their patrons.

The last big performance held by the Clark State Performing Arts Center was a sold out show featuring The Blue Man Group. But that was back on March 10. Just over a week later, Governor Mike DeWine’s Stay-at-Home order went into effect.

“And then we went dark,” says Adele Adkins, executive director of the Center. She says the performance art industry is facing a catastrophic crisis because of the pandemic.

“We are the last that have not gotten any kind of green light. We depend on those large audiences so, the big question looming large in my industry, is how do we move forward at least for the next six months?”

The Clark State Performing Arts Center is a traditional 1,500 seat proscenium theater. The organization hosts up to 30 events each season, which runs from September through May.

Since they went dark, Adkins says they’ve had no money coming in but if there is a silver lining to be found, it's that show sponsors and ticket buyers have largely reinforced their commitments as patrons.

She also says the pandemic has forced organizations like hers to discover new ways of collaborating. They have several projects underway, including a drive-in concert scheduled for June 13.

“We do believe we can open our doors again and do it safely, and safety overrides everything we're going to do.”

Adkins says efforts are taking place at the state level with policy makers, to address the pandemic’s effect on arts organizations.

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.