What's Up!

September 27, 2020

What's Up - Your guide to what's happening in Fayetteville, AR this week!

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6 WHAT'S UP! SEPTEMBER 27-OCTOBER 3, 2020 The Arts Find A Way WAC and AMP continue serving community through crisis JOCELYN MURPHY NWA Democrat-Gazette S ince our last check-in with the programming teams at the Walton Arts Center and Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion, things are looking up for the entertainment venues. Both WAC in Fayetteville and the AMP in Rogers have welcomed masked guests for a few small-scale events, while staffs still navigate reschedulings and future potential offerings. The WAC hosted its first stage show of the season on Sept. 10 — almost six months to the day after the venue ended its 2019-20 season early in response to the spread of covid-19. Bonnie Bishop was originally scheduled to perform March 21 as part of the West Street Live Series in the intimate Starr Theatre. The singer/songwriter was eager to see her fans again and looking forward to her return to Fayetteville. Some 119 music lovers were equally excited to welcome her back. "We did a survey of those West Street Live buyers, and we were very excited when, I believe, close to two- thirds to three-quarters of the audience came back and said, 'Yes, we're coming,'" Jennifer Ross, WAC director of programming, remembers of seeing if the show would even be possible. "And, I've got to tell you, my parents are two of those people, and they're so excited that they're going to get to come out and see live music again after however many years," she adds jokingly. "We're excited to be able to offer it and be able to offer it in, hopefully, what will feel like a safe space because that's our goal. We want people to be back in the theater and to enjoy live music, and to bring that bit of happiness back into people's lives." The programming teams have been tracking consumer feelings and response from across the country, as well. Walton Arts Center has been surveying different segments of its audience roughly once a month during this period of extended intermission, reveals Jennifer Wilson, PR director. Those local metrics then feed into a national survey so staff can compare our local data against that of nationwide trends and concerns to get a big picture perspective of how audiences are feeling about returning to their seats. "We are constantly involved in that conversation," Scott Galbraith, vice president of programming and executive producer, says of maintaining communication with other venues on how they are navigating covid. "Frankly, what keeps me lifted, is thinking about what can we do? How can we continue to serve the community? How can we continue to put arts and culture experiences in front of them, even in these times? And how do we do it safely? Because ultimately, that is guiding everything." The next opportunity to take in some auditory delights in Baum Walker Hall is Oct. 22 as Jontavious Willis brings his mastery of the blues to the WAC. A couple other shows from the 2020 season — Jayme Stone's "Folklife" and "Fiddler on the Roof" — have been rescheduled for next year. But programming staff remain optimistic audiences will find a few more chances for live entertainment before the year is out. Not quite "live," but another way WAC and AMP are bringing people together is with the new Saturday Cinema series. What began on Sept. 12 with showings of "Blinded by the Local reggae band The Irie Lions perform at the AMP's new Choctaw Pavilion during Happy Hour on Sept. 11. "All the bands have been positive and excited to support the cause. The sense of community is strong within our industry, especially in Northwest Arkansas," shares AMP Vice President Brian Crowne. "There is definitely emotion involved as artists get to connect with fans again in person. Any sense of normalcy is moving during these times." (Guests are required to mask up unless they are seated at appropriately distanced tables.) (Courtesy Photo) FEATURE FAQ Saturday Cinema WHEN — Saturdays through at least Nov. 1, times vary WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville and Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers COST — $10-$15 INFO — 443-5600, waltonartscenter.org

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