Murray to offer modified performing arts this summerJul 13, 2020 12:55PM ● By Shaun Delliskave
The band Supergrey performed May 26 at Murray Park. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
How do you put on community concerts and shows during a pandemic, especially when budgets have been slashed? Murray Cultural Arts Manager Lori Edmunds says that shows must go on in spite of these obstacles—but with social distancing.
“Back in April, we decided how to best restructure our summer season, taking into account the COVID-19 regulations given to us from the governor and the health department,” Edmunds said. “Since musicals take several weeks of preparation, we canceled ‘Little Mermaid,’ set for June, and ‘Newsies,’ scheduled to play in July, and also the free concerts in the park: Tuesday Lunch Concerts and Thursday Children’s Matinees. Of course, with the fluidity of the situation, we were constantly trying to save as many programs as we could while conforming to the restrictions we had been given.”
One program that Edmunds does want everyone to stay home for is the Stay at Home art series. Murray residents of all ages are invited to share artwork and pictures that describe their COVID-19 experiences. Writers too will be able to submit stories for the Murray History Collection.
“When the restrictions changed to the yellow phase, we decided to move forward on some events at the amphitheater and free lunch concerts and children’s matinees,” Edmunds said. “For July, we have created a concert series.”
On July 3, the amphitheater will host Jersey Street, a band that plays rock, country and jazz. Indie/alternative rock band Foreign Figures will perform on July 10. The Brazilian music group Samba Rio grooves in on July 17. On Pioneer Day, High Society will take the stage, and on July 31, Beatles tribute band Strawberry Fields will perform. Violin virtuoso Jenny Oaks Baker closes the concert series on August 7. Tickets are $10.
“We have also decided to move forward with our free lunch concerts on Tuesdays at noon and our Children’s Matinee performances at pavilion No. 5 in Murray Park. For the lunch concerts, we will be rearranging the tables in the pavilion to adhere to social distancing rules and will move the Children’s Matinees to the gazebo to allow families to sit on the grass or bring their chairs, which will help us social distance as well,” Edmunds said.
Moved online this year, the Murray Storytelling Showcase was judged via video. First place this year went to Elizabeth Myers. Murray City Cultural Arts Facebook page posted all award-winning entries online.
Musical theater will still be on track for August at the Murray Amphitheater. “Little Shop of Horrors” runs August 14-22, excluding Sunday. There will be two added performances as the number of tickets will be limited to accommodate a smaller audience to maintain social distancing.
“Again, to adhere to current health department guidelines, we are reducing the size of our audience at the amphitheater and all of the free events and will provide seating that accommodates social distancing. Keeping things clean and sanitized is of utmost importance to our department, and we will (print) ‘Strongly Recommend Masks’ on all advertising. However, we ordered some ‘Murray Cultural Arts’ masks to sell for a small fee if someone forgets their mask,” Edmunds said.
Like most city departments, Murray City Cultural Arts will see an overall reduction in their budget and have been planning how to salvage what is typically an active arts scene.
According to Edmunds, “Unfortunately, all of our programs will see a small decrease in funding, but we are confident that we can still provide quality programming to the community. Some of the cuts will be seen in our arts education component and some in our 2021 summer series.
“It is so important for us as a department to keep the arts alive and available to our community, as this has been an extremely difficult year for everyone. We know that the arts are healing, and we wish to help in that process in any way we are able.”
All Murray City Cultural Arts tickets will be sold online at https://smashpass.com/murraycityevents or at the box office the night of the performance.