WARSAW — The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made the summer season a difficult one for businesses in Kosciusko County.
But the effects of the pandemic appear to have hit entertainment entities particularly hard, including Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts.
According to Jay Michaels, executive director, the nonprofit is set to lose $700,000 this year due to the lack of revenue from the summer season. All performances and concerts that were set to occur during the 2020 summer season have been rescheduled for the 2021 summer season.
“This has been tough on a lot of businesses and theatre and entertainment have been hit so hard with this. We need help. We need donations,” said Michaels. “The Wagon Wheel has been a great place for entertainment for 65 years in Kosciusko County … We love entertaining people. We love giving people an escape. I’d like to escape 2020 and move forward but we certainly need help to do that.”
Any donations will help ensure that the Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts continues serving and entertaining the county for years to come. Anyone interested in donating can do so here.
Besides making donations, community members can also help the theatre out by purchasing ticket subscriptions for the 2021 season. Some of the notable shows planned for 2021 include performances of “The Wizard of Oz”, “The Music Man” and “Pride & Prejudice”. Concerts for next year’s season include Amy Grant, The Oak Ridge Boys and The Mersey Beatles.
There is also a Center Street Community Theatre production planned for this September. “Clue,” a comedy with a twist ending based on the popular board game, has shows at 7:30 p.m. Sept 10, 11 and 12 with a 2 p.m. performance on Sept. 13. Tickets are $15 at the door or $12 if purchased in advance online.
The theatre has is taking special measures to ensure that patrons can safely enjoy the performance.
“We have been in contact with the Kosciusko County Health Department over the last month to work on plans,” explained Michaels. “ At the current time, there will be less than 250 people in the theatre so we can properly social distance, masks will need to be worn until you get to your seat, there will be no intermission to cut down on lines. We will be sanitizing our seats with a sanitizer that lasts for 90 days and kills any virus that hits it. We also have sanitizing dispensers throughout the venue that have sanitizer that lasts for 6 hours when applied to your hands.”
Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts is also still planning on hosting its annual Christmas production at the end of the year, depending on how the pandemic plays out over time.
“There are so many unknowns right now with COVID and we are very much making decisions on the information we have in front of us at the time,” said Michaels. “Sometimes that changes and we have to pivot. We have become pretty good at that this year.”
One example of pivoting the theatre has done this year was moving their performances of “Always … Patsy Cline” outside under a tent to abide with social distancing protocols.
“The production was amazing,” said Michaels. “Outdoor theatre is a different animal but we lucked out that in 12 performances, we had a total of one 30 minute rain delay. Attendance was lower than we expected but the crowds were energetic and engaging. It certainly isn’t the same or as intimate as what we can do in the round inside but it certainly was unique and our team pulled it off amazingly well.”
Employees with Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts are hard at work planning a big 2021 with musicals, concerts, symphony performances, Wagon Wheel Jr. productions and more.
“We hope to see all of you in 2021 and if you can make a donation, please do,” concluded Michaels.