Optimism All Around As Venues Reopen

This week’s paper — U.S. 1’s annual summer arts preview — is full of optimism for bright days ahead and a return to normalcy. Dan Aubrey’s run down of music, art, and other cultural happenings this summer starts on page 6 and runs nearly 6,000 words — showcasing a broad array of events, many being held in person, at what is typically a slower time of year for the cultural calendar.

U.S. 1’s weekly calendar of events has also hit a milestone this week, as for the first time since it began compiling a calendar of the largely virtual pandemic-era events, there are more events occurring in person than via Zoom and the other online platforms that have become ubiquitous this past year.

Many of the venues featured in this preview issue are also looking forward to a more normal fall season with renewed optimism. One such example is McCarter Theater, which recently sent the following update to its supporters:

We have a lot to share with you over the next few months as we get ready to open our doors.

Right now, we wanted to let you know about three important things:

1) Reopening Plans: We will reopen this September with your health and safety top of mind! Favorite McCarter artists — across music, dance, theater, and spoken word — will be returning, as will groundbreaking original work. Subscribers and McCarter Members will have early access to tickets starting in late July. We’ll be putting YOU in control of your seats and your schedule. Traditional subscriptions will be on hiatus this year, but we think you’ll love the easy flexibility our new option will offer. Details and more information will be out next month.

2) Paula Vogel’s Bard at the Gate: Our live season will be enhanced by a virtual reading series, a collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel. We will stream powerful, overlooked plays by BIPOC, female, LGBTQIA+, and disabled artists. On June 3 we will celebrate this new partnership by re-releasing the online play Bulrusher written and directed by Eisa Davis. Click for background on Bard at the Gate, and complimentary streaming access to Bulrusher.

3) Virtual Gala 2021 — Artist Sneak Peek: On Friday, June 11 at 7 p.m., catch an exclusive glimpse at the artists who will perform live on our stages in the reopening season. Tickets start at $100 for a delightful night of escape, celebration, and community. More: Celebrate McCarter.

Thank you for your continued support and encouragement as McCarter gets ready to welcome you back. Soon, we will be together again.

Until then, stay tuned for programming and ticketing updates – and come say hello at our free, live outdoor concerts in Palmer Square, Sundays from 4 to 6 p.m. through June 20!

Sarah Rasmussen

Artistic Director

Another regional venue that has patiently awaited a return to in-person programming is Hopewell Theater, which announced its fall reopening last week.

After over a year of closure, Hopewell Theater is thrilled to announce that we are REOPENING!

This past week, Governor Murphy lifted capacity restrictions and six foot social distancing between patrons in New Jersey. With that, Hopewell Theater is now able to reopen its doors and sell shows at full capacity, which is what we need for those shows to be financially viable.

Our grand reopening will be the week of September 7, 2021 — the anniversary of our first opening, four years ago, in 2017.

To celebrate our anniversary and our reemergence from the long pandemic shutdown, we will hold a special event performance that week — headliner to be announced — for our dedicated members, press, and special local guests.

On September 15, the selectively eclectic programming our patrons have come to expect at HT will resume! Get ready for an array of live music, live performance, comedy shows, and film screenings to go on sale in the coming month for the Fall season.

Before I close, we want to let you, our patrons, know how moved we’ve been throughout this closure by your enthusiasm for us to reopen safely. We received over two hundred kind comments on our reopening survey letting us know how much you value our theater and in-person live shows. Knowing that kept us going.

We also want to thank you for helping us advocate for and spread awareness of the plight of shuttered indie venues during our campaign for Federal and State venue relief funds. Not all venues made it through to the other side, but your loyalty is one of the reasons why HT and many other venues can return this fall — the government heard your support for venues and answered with relief dollars.

The pandemic affected the entire world as we once knew it, from billions of individuals to the whole of society itself. The decline of performing arts during the pandemic was not just a loss to the economy and community, but to the cultural nourishment of each and every one of us. It showed us how much we need each other and need to be together, in person, over creative entertainment.

The reopening of the state is a boon for the arts industry, the communities tied together by their local performing arts centers, and the people who have come to miss the unforgettable experiences theaters provide. With the State reopening and the promised but not-yet-delivered State and Federal venue relief grants, our theaters will fully recover, together.

We look forward to welcoming you at HT this Fall, your place to meet friends and get inspired, newly reopened!

Sara Scully

Executive Director & Co-Founder, Hopewell Theater