October is Arts Month. In another time, we’d be going to museums, listening to live music, seeing plays at the Ent Center, the Millibo Art Theatre or the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.
COVID upended most live, in-person events. The Colorado Springs Philharmonic has gone silent. The Millibo is dark. The World Arena is using its parking lot for drive-in movies.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense. And it definitely doesn’t help the artists, performers and musicians who make their living in the Pikes Peak region.
Bars are open; restaurants are as well. Musicians are performing around town at local restaurants and nightclubs. People are eating, sometimes in close quarters, and drinking, frequently with no masks. And bars, while their hours are shorter, are doing brisk business.
Opening the Millibo or restarting the Philharmonic season is much less risky. During theater productions, people sit quietly, there’s no talking. How could a show by the Funky Little Theater Company or Springs Ensemble Theatre — or the Curious Theater Company in Denver — be a larger health threat than a packed bar after a few drinks when inhibitions are low?
The actors, musicians and stage directors are in close proximity, that much is true. But it’s a good bet they’d be willing to make some concessions for an opening night in front of the lights once again. Couldn’t we have smaller ensembles at the Philharmonic? And outdoor performance of a play at the Fine Arts Center?
The Millibo is raising money to continue to operate once we are past the uncertainty of the coronavirus; it’s pivoted to online classes for kids as well as some in-person events. The Philharmonic is doing the same, asking for help until we are all on the other side of COVID. The greatest thing missing is that which we love the most: live theater performances.
Other small theater groups have simply gone dark — and we really hope they reopen soon. We miss plays from small local companies like Counterweight Theatre Lab, THEATREdART and Star Bar Players. The Funky Little Theater Company held an outdoor event (socially distanced) in September, but isn’t advertising new events. The community misses out when theaters and the Philharmonic are closed.
We’re all about keeping people safe. We don’t want COVID to spread to people who are at risk for complications. But we do think there’s a way to have our theater and be safe as well.
We’ve lost so much in 2020. We all know COVID sucks. But these actors and musicians have lost more than just a chance to hone their craft. They, like so many other artisans and small business owners, have lost their livelihoods to restrictions that threaten their way of life and certainly impact the quality of ours.
So, while we are waiting for the lights to go down and the curtain to rise again, please consider donating to these local theater and musical groups. Missing performances means missing revenue, and that can be deadly for local culture. Donate a few dollars — or more — and let’s keep the theater groups that make Colorado Springs such an awesome place to live.
Correction: The print version of this article incorrectly stated the Fine Arts Center is open for business. The FAC continues to be closed. The Indy regrets the error.