‘We had to find a way:’ Clark State to present live outdoor summer concert

Clark State Community College will offer live entertainment to Springfield this summer featuring one of the area’s own talents.

Singer and songwriter Wyatt McCubbin and special guests from Nashville will lead the COVID Country Concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 13 in the parking lot of the Sara T. Landess Technology and Learning Center on Clark State’s main campus at 570 E. Leffel Lane.

The format will be different as attendees will be asked to remain in their vehicles, bring their own concessions and adhere to social distancing measures.

Tickets cost $25 a vehicle and must be purchased in advance; they’ll go on sale at 9 a.m. Monday, May 18 at www.ticketmaster.com.

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“During the pandemic, most of us have enjoyed all the online content available. However, what has become more apparent than ever is that absolutely nothing compares to the shared live experience,” said Adele Adkins, Clark State Performing Arts Center executive director. “Knowing all the summer concerts and festivals had and would be canceling, I decided we had to find a way to bring live, in-person performances to our community while always social distancing and safety as our number one priority.”

Rather than transmitting the music through car radios, speakers will be spread throughout the parking lot to contribute to the live experience.

Adkins was inspired by an article about drive-in theaters in Europe reopening, leading to conversations with colleagues around the country with a model for concerts. One idea was having a performer inside on a stage being transmitted onto a screen for people to watch, which led to other ideas.

“At our very basic core, we put on events,” she said. “Knowing this, I had total confidence that we would figure it out. The team at the Performing Arts Center, which includes the Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts Center, are some of the best folks I’ve worked with and I knew they were up to the challenge.”

Adkins immediately thought of McCubbin as the headliner; he’s performed at Clark State several times.

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Southeastern High graduate McCubbin splits time between his home in nearby Selma and Nashville, writing and working with a variety of country artists. McCubbin told Clark State he’s looking forward to a parking lot party and to bring a fun, laid-back experience.

According to Adkins, she received a call from a Nashville agent congratulating Clark State as one of the first, if not the first venue to announce this type of concert.

“She said the industry will be looking at us for the model of how to get this done. As you can imagine, this is very exciting for Clark State,” she said.

Adkins wants to do at least two more diverse shows this summer, learning from this concert and growing from there. It’s also a bonus to do so from Clark State’s main campus.

“The Summer Arts Festival had to cancel for the first time in its history. I know they will be back in full force next summer and we’ll return the baton to them for summer concerts and look forward to enjoying all the shows in the park,” Adkins said.

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