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And about her career in a time when most U. Most of all, she worries about the future of the performing arts in Southwest Florida and the rest of the world. Not so for many other artists, venues and performing arts groups — especially newer ones still trying to find their footing.
: Venues are reopening in Fort Myers and Naples. But will audiences show up?
The hard truth is this: Many Southwest Florida venues and arts groups might not live past the pandemic. The longer the pandemic stretches and most venues stay closed, the bigger the financial hit from lost ticket sales, dwindling donations and accumulating rent and other bills.
The Cape Coral bar and concert venue had only been open for five months when the coronavirus pandemic forced it to shut down in March. Ollies reopened in June for only three weeks as a fully operational venue, and then Gov. Ron DeSantis forced bars to stop selling alcohol statewide. The arts are huge money generators in Southwest Florida and the rest of the country, says Black, executive director for the Alliance for the Arts in Lee County.
But thanks to the pandemic, Southwest Florida has seen closures, cancellations, layoffs and furloughs for its venues and arts and culture groups. Some arts groups have managed find help from the government. And the have been painful — especially for smaller, newer arts organizations without savings or a built-up army of donors.
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But I do think that organizations are having difficult conversations with their boards and staff and donors to make really tough choices. Some, such as Opera Naples and Florida Repertory Theater, have delayed the start of their seasons until after fall or even January. But as places where people gather in large groups, Southwest Florida's theaters, concert halls and other venues were some of the first businesses to get shut down in Florida, Black says.
That also hurts the bands and artists who perform at those venues. That, combined with uncertainty about the future and whether audiences will attend events, puts many of these groups and venues on shaky financial ground.
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Without that ongoing support, Moran says, the theater could end up closing. All of us have to have positive thoughts.
Cultural Park Theatre and many other arts groups in Southwest Florida are learning to adapt in the pandemic and try new and innovative things. For the Southwest Florida arts scene, that adaptation is just starting to take shape as arts groups plan ahead for the season. Arts organizations are looking at many different possibilities that allow for social distancing and safety during the pandemic: Outdoor concerts, one-person shows without the worry of big casts interacting, shorter runs of plays, streaming concerts and more.
Times of challenge breed inventiveness. Some arts groups are soldiering on with live, in-person shows — albeit with social distancing, blocked off seats and rows, required masks and temperature checks, and other new measures. Otherwise, the arts might disappear from Southwest Florida — or at least become a lesser version of its former self. Bigger shows will likely start happening this fall in the seat Hinman Auditorium which can only hold about with social distancing.
Many of those people have been out of work and hurting since March. Broadway Palm dinner theater, for example, had to lay off or furlough of its employees, says owner Will Prather. He hopes to increase his staff to 75 employees by October.
Several national campaigns have been urging the U. Powers has been active on Facebook, promoting two of those biggest campaigns, BeAnArtsHero and SaveTheArts, and urging people to online petitions. But then you look at its impact nationally, she says, and you see what a big economic driver the arts can be.
She and husband Brendan Powers, who perform at both Florida Repertory Theatre and Theatre Conspiracy, have been luckier than most, she admits. Even so, she admits, times are hard. Complicating things for arts groups is the difficulty of fundraising during the pandemic. Typical in-person fundraisers have been replaced by Zoom and Facebook Live events, but it can be hard asking for money from people who are hurting financially, themselves.
Still, many arts organizations report that donors have stepped up and helped them weather these tough times. Some venues are doing better than others, especially those with a history in Southwest Florida and a deep reserve of donors and supporters. Despite her worries, Walck says she has hope for the future. I get scared.
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