Op-Ed submitted by: David Mitchell, General Manager, Performing Arts Center at Kent State University at Tuscarawas
To borrow a line from the Broadway musical RENT… “525,600 minutes. How do you measure, measure a year?”
In the next several days, you’re going to see a lot of musicians, actors, venues and arts organizations share the one-year anniversary of their “last performance”. Their “last show”. Maybe their “last paid gig” before the pandemic brought everything to a halt. For the Performing Arts Center, March 10th, 2020 was that last live experience we were able to share with a full audience. This isn’t a milestone anyone wants to celebrate. It’s been a tough year. It’s been a long year. For an industry that exists to create and bring people together, this past year has been a gut punch.
For those of us in the arts industry whose passion and purpose is poured into every show and every event, a piece of our soul has been missing for an entire year. An entire year without an audience to share music with. An entire year without the anticipation of the roar of a crowd. An entire year without that connection between people as we share the energy of a live performance. An entire year without establishing that artist/audience relationship and the understanding between each other, knowing that in that moment, we’re part of something bigger than ourselves.
An entire year… a brutal year.
We need the arts now more than ever. The arts heal. They give us a sense of community. It’s pure magic and simple joy. We need those moments that reassure us that we are not alone and to remind us that we need each other. We need the arts to survive and show us the beauty in humanity. The arts are how we start to move forward.
Live entertainment is starting to come back very slowly. It’s going to start small and continue to grow. Some performers and venues may take longer to return than others. However, when the shows return (and they will return), it will be glorious. And when that day comes, the arts will need an audience. We’ll need YOU. When you’re ready, please support the arts. Go see a show. Go see several shows. Go see ALL the shows. We’ve been waiting a long time to welcome you back.
David Mitchell is the General Manager of the Performing Arts Center at Kent State Tuscarawas in New Philadelphia, Ohio