Regional Spotlight: How Civic Theatre is Working Through The Global Health Crisis
Now more than ever it is important to support theater and do our part to keep the art form that we love so much alive and as thriving as it can be during these unprecedented times. While the global health crisis has temporarily put the theater world on hold, pausing all live performances and large gatherings to help stop the spread of COVID-19, theaters around the country have taken a hit. During this time of adjusting to our temporary new normal, theaters are figuring out how to take care of their team, and discovering the best ways to virtually bring theater to audiences.
Through our regional theater interview series, we are checking in with theaters all around the country, talking to them about how they are handling these difficult circumstances, learning what they are doing to move forward, and discovering the best way for people to help regional theaters during this time.
Today we shine a spotlight on Carmel, Indiana's Civic Theatre with Executive Artistic Director, Michael Lasley.
First of all, I want to check in on the health and well-being of everyone at Civic Theatre. How is everyone doing during this difficult time?
We're lucky health-wise. No one on staff has contracted the virus. We're coping in the weird world of being a producing theatre that can't produce theatre. We're planning for the future - whatever it may be. We're re-inventing ourselves to the degree that is possible. And we wait.
What do the days look like right now for those who work at Civic Theatre?
We are all doing our part - virtually. Zoom meetings, online classes and working hard to prepare for the future, which is unclear. We have daily and weekly meetings and we're all learning how to do new things or old things in a new way - at a dizzying pace.
How much planning is going on both short term and long term for the theater? I would like to hear about the immediate plans for the theater, it's upcoming productions etc., and what the theater is hoping/planning for in future months.
We cancelled the runs of A FEW GOOD MEN and MATILDA THE MUSICAL within days of each other.
Our annual Day of Giving, normally held the second week of May, turned into something different this year. On Friday, May 15th, we held a virtual Day of Gratitude, to thank and celebrate our theatre family and local community for their continued support of Civic in this uncertain time. More details can be found at this link: https://www.civictheatre.org/day-of-gratitude.
Our season announcement for 2020-2021 also went out on May 15th. It's unclear, of course, what that season will look like in terms of our patrons, but we're planning on the assumption that it will happen. The season is set to open on October 2, 2020.
Due to continued guidelines set forth by state government, the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel will be suspending all activities through June 30th. This means that Civic Theatre has made the decision to move all summer programming to 2021. FROZEN JR., performed by our Jr. Civic program, is now scheduled for June of 2021, and SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, our Young Artists Program musical will be set for July 2021. We will determine if we will do our summer camps, normally held in July for kids ages 7-14, on June 15th. This coincides with the June 14th date of the Governor's next stage in the Back on Track plan.
Do you have plans to bring any previously filmed productions/upcoming events/classes etc. online?
We don't know how much this will be a part of our future. Strictly speaking, we are not licensed for live streaming or broadcast of our productions. One does imagine that there will be accommodations for that sort of thing if we're unable to open the theatres to the public or if the social-distancing guidelines make it impractical to have a live audience. Our annual Education Fundraiser will be held on Thursday, June 11th. We're continuing to work towards accommodating classes online, though there are limits to the efficacy of instruction without being in the same room.
What is the best way for people to help Civic Theatre right now?
As a non-profit theatre we have a lean budget, but we accomplish a lot with a small permanent staff and an army of adjunct staff and volunteers. We earn 60% of our income from ticket sales and classes, with 40% coming in charitable contributions. While we cannot be certain what the future will be, we know we will always need the support of the community and our patrons. Donations can be made at any time by visiting civictheatre.org/support. No amount is too small and every donor becomes a member of the family. #keepcivicthriving
*This interview has been edited for clarity