Clark State Performing Arts Center to offer first performance since start of the pandemic

Adele Adkins, executive director of the Clark State Performing Arts Center, talks about some of the items they'll be using to keep people safe when they reopen to the public in October for the first time since March. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Adele Adkins, executive director of the Clark State Performing Arts Center, talks about some of the items they'll be using to keep people safe when they reopen to the public in October for the first time since March. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Live performances are returning to the Clark State Performing Arts Center for the first time since March.

The PAC will host the Springfield Symphony Orchestra on Friday, Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. It will be the first performance at the PAC’s Kuss Auditorium since the pandemic forced the center to close in late March and cancel events.

The performing arts were among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. When shows began getting canceled in March, Adele Adkins, executive director of the PAC said “everyone in the arts and entertainment industry was in a state of shock and disbelief.”

Adkins said she did not expect the shut down to last, however, by mid-April “it became apparent that venues were going to stay closed for much longer than a couple of months.”

Since the pandemic, PAC has lost about $150,000 in revenue due to canceling and postponing events, Adkins said, but the center has managed to avoid lay-offs.

“The Performing Arts Center has had a few outdoor events that have kept staff busy and being part of a college, many of the staff have done work in other departments such as Student Affairs and Marketing,” Adkins said.

Adkins is pleased that the symphony will be the PAC’s first performance upon reopening.

“It really is a collaborative effort with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra,” Adkins said. “I thought it would be a great way to reopen the PAC and it is equally important for the local musicians who haven’t had the opportunity to perform for so long.”

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The symphony musicians are “very proud” to be a part of the “grand welcome back,” Lou Ross, executive director of the orchestra, said.

“Even though it’s a small audience, it’s our audience,’” Ross said. “We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. It may take months, but eventually, it will grow again, and we will be able to have more people watch and have more musicians on stage. We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the PAC and Clark State. It’s a great opportunity to help welcome our patrons back to the Kuss.”

Springfield Symphony Orchestra music director Peter Stafford Wilson said he is looking forward to the event with “enormous excitement.”

“It will be almost eight months to the day since the Springfield Symphony last performed together,” Wilson said. “We will be one of the first orchestras to return to indoor performance and we have meticulously planned to protect our musicians and patrons. This pandemic has silenced live music in an unprecedented way, and that painful drought has left us all with an extreme hunger to perform.”

Due to health and safety reopening guidelines from Gov. Mike DeWine, there is a limited number of tickets available for the live performance. Under the public health order from DeWine, performance venues can reopen, but audiences are capped at 15% capacity, or 300 people for indoor venues and 15%, or 1,5000 for outdoor venues, whichever is less.

This means that the PAC can have roughly 225 people in their 1,500 seat venue, Adkins said.

“This is the new normal for now. Everyone in the arts and entertainment industry is working hard to comply with all regulations so that we can go back to our previous operations and way of life,” Adkins said.

In consideration of the limited tickets, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra will also live-stream the event for free on their Facebook page.

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“Although all required safety measures are in place, some patrons may not yet be comfortable attending a live concert,” Adkins said. “The live stream options will still allow them to experience the performance live and in the moment.”

All PAC patrons, including all staff, will be required to wear face coverings. In addition, no concession will be available, hand sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the facility, entrance times will be staggered, washrooms will be sanitized after each use and distance and directional markers will be placed on the floor.

Tickets for the performance will go on sale on Monday, Sept. 21 at 9 a.m. through the Clark State box office by calling 937-328-3874.