Idle arts center stages may become recording studios
With live and in-person performing arts productions at a halt, Cultural arts organizations are finding ways to put large empty theater stages to good use while fundraising initiatives continue.
Doing everything possible to move forward and keep facilities operational, performing arts centers are consistently looking for permits, funds and grants to keep them afloat and at the same time, keep artists working and staff members employed.
The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts has formed a board advisory committee specifically for fundraising, became online content producers and most recently was approved to use its theater stages for recording or broadcasting purposes only.
“We recently created a board fundraising committee to focus its efforts specifically for funding and reopening,” said Johann Zietsman, Arsht Center’s president and CEO. “Board members are going to work together to participate in fundraising efforts either by writing checks themselves or finding sponsors and donors to support us, and that will help move the needle.”
Adrienne Arsht Center has remained relevant and in the mix by producing online content like Arsht@Home, where the public can interact with artists performing remotely and learn new artistic skills with training artists. Recently, the arts center was also approved by the county to use its stages for streaming or recording purposes.
“We recently applied to the county and were granted to use the building for arts projects that will require very few human beings using the building,” Mr. Zietsman said, “for example, like Miami City Ballet, where two or three dancers will be allowed to record performances and film it for distribution.”
Provided that all wear a mask while recording and social distance, he said, “We are delighted. That means the blood in the building is starting to flow and we are getting out of the coma. It’s a small step, but an important one.”
Taking similar initiatives, the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center is seeking permission to use its stage for renting purposes, rehearsing and live streaming.
“We have always been a rental facility with self-production. We can work with a few artists and provide space,” said Eric Fliss, the center’s artistic director.
If rentals are allowed, South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center will be able to bring back furloughed employees and hire contractors, he said.
“Until we know what permissions we are going to get, we will see what the possibilities are in using our outdoor concert lawn,” Mr. Fliss added.
Once coronavirus vaccines and rapid testing are widely available and affordable to the public is when the Arsht Center will see the possibility of getting people back into large theater spaces, Mr. Zietsman said, but for now, the arts community should take baby steps and not rush it.
“If people know that everyone has been tested before coming in a closed space like a theater,” he said, “they will feel more confident, comfortable and safe.”