Right now, online and streaming apps are filled with musicians, artists, actors, dancers, singers and comedians sharing their talents with others around the world. Ordinarily, the Bankhead Theater and Bothwell Arts Center would be alive with that same artistic energy in live performances, rehearsals and gallery exhibits. With both venues now closed through at least July and potentially much longer due to COVID-19, Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center (LVPAC) is shifting to different opportunities for experiencing art.
“Our mission is to connect our community through arts and education, and we are focused on doing this despite the current situation,” said Executive Director Chris Carter.
One way LVPAC has expanded its offerings was to move its Spring Break Art Camp online and convert to webinar format the last of the ValleyCare Speaker Series, a presentation by infectious disease specialist Dr. Jake Scott on May 7. Another way has been providing links to video and streamed performances by artists and groups familiar to Bankhead patrons. These have included the stay-at-home series by innovative dance group Catapult, which thrilled local audiences in 2018 with magical shadow dancing, an exclusive radio theater recording of Neil Simon’s comic play “Lost in Yonkers,” by LA Theatre Works, and concert videos from such artists as the legendary Arlo Guthrie, whose scheduled performance last week had to be moved to the fall.
The resident companies of the Bankhead have also been active in sharing their artistry. Ever since the theater closed in the middle of March, abruptly ending their acclaimed run of “A Florentine Tragedy” and “Gianni Schicchi,” Livermore Valley Opera has offered past productions every Friday evening on their YouTube channel.
LVPAC has more projects in process including expansion of the online art classes into June, digital art exhibits featuring works by local artists, and some live music options.
“We are a presenting organization so we have less direct access to artists than a producing company would,” Carter said. “However, musicians are eager to find ways to perform, and we want to reach people with every type of art. Live music is at the heart of what we do, so we’re dedicated to finding ways to make it possible.”
One potential silver lining he sees in the worldwide quarantine is that performers and artists have unexpectedly been given more time to be creative, and he is looking forward to seeing what could be a massive wave of new and meaningful music in the coming year.
According to Carter, LVPAC’s board and staff are in the process of evaluating a number of scenarios for reopening the venue and bringing it back to full operation. It will unquestionably take some time. Prior to closing in March, both venues were busy every week with live performances, visual art exhibits, classes, workshops and community events. Carter says life after COVID-19 may mean experiencing art in new ways or putting a greater focus on celebrating what is already in the region. Nonetheless, he remains certain the arts can return to thrive in this community and continue to bring joy to artists and audiences alike.