This week, Riverside County entered the Red Tier of businesses reopening. Yet, theaters, production companies, dance companies and many other art organizations throughout the valley remain closed. Most art institutions remain uncertain as to when they may be allowed to reopen indoors; and, they remain cautious as to their capacity with social distancing.
During the pandemic, performing arts organizations shifted to the virtual world to continue presentations. According to Artistic Director Ron Celona, “It started out as an exciting opportunity to get creative. And, it’s still popular. It’s just not the same as live performances.” CVRep looked at ways to re-offer live performances amid coronavirus concerns, social distancing and most important, a safe and comfortable environment.
Discussions with the City of Cathedral City proved an exciting partnership – one in which live performances could be potentially offered – utilizing the nearly completed Cathedral City Community Amphitheater, a 109,335 square foot outdoor venue. The Amphitheater was used for the City’s popular “Taste of Jalisco” event in February 2020, shortly before Governor Gavin Newsom issued a state-wide Shelter in Place order.
Coachella Valley Repertory and the City of Cathedral City began meeting in August. A committee comprised of both organizations’ key personnel, Councilmember Rita Lamb, and Parks and Community Events Commissioner Stephen Vericker brainstormed about creating a performing arts series. During the City Council’s September meeting, Chris Parman, Communications & Events Manager, laid out the plan which CVRep’s Celona said would include jazz concerts, Latinx programs, a Shakespeare production and other exciting programming. The City Council unanimously voted in favor, clearing the way for live arts to return to the Valley if approved by State and County authorities.
“CVRep is one of our four entertainment anchors to the Downtown Arts and Entertainment District and we are committed to its success,” said Mayor John Aguilar. “The coronavirus pandemic has caused us to come up with creative solutions and the outdoor amphitheater space appears to be the answer in providing quality entertainment for the playhouse in a safe, socially-distanced manner.”
The venture is expected to kick off with a Holiday show on December 12, 2020. However, scheduling remains contingent on both State and County approval.
The upcoming events at the Amphitheater will see the ground marked out in “pods”, a circled area on the grass which will include a table and chairs for two or four persons. Doors will open at 4:30 pm, for Saturday performances, with shows beginning at 6:00 pm. During the 90-minute performances, patrons can enjoy a self-provided or concession food option for picnicking and the option to purchase wine, beer, and Pepsi products.
“We are looking to offer a full event experience in a safe environment using best practices for audience and entertainer safety,” said Celona.
The City and CVRep teams have been outlining safety protocols. According to Board of Directors President Joe Giarrusso, events will have safety and wellness measures at the forefront. “Health and safety will be our top priority. We are creating a blueprint which ensures a safe environment for patrons, volunteers, staff and performers,” said Giarrusso. Among the safety requirements will be mandatory face coverings, social distancing and other measures which the Center for Disease Control (CDC) may recommend.
Full details on the upcoming events will be available at www.cvrep.org. CVRep is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to provide thought provoking theatre of substance.