It would be nice to shake 2020 off and dance, to take in live music and live theater, go to a movie and bump into friends without worrying about your mask being on right.
That life is coming back, but when exactly in 2021 it will happen is a guess, said a number of individuals with ears open for any good news with regard to events, entertainment and the arts.
“My boss says everything has an asterisk on it,” said Maria Rainsdon, general manager for Avalon Theatre and Las Colonias Amphitheater, which are owned by the city and managed by the Oak View Group.
The asterisk is the “if” related to COVID-19. If case numbers go down. If vaccine distribution goes well. If limits on capacity and other restrictions make it possible for people to gather. If touring acts really can tour.
If things line up right, it looks like there likely will be some locally based events at Las Colonias Amphitheater during the summer and by fall the bigger, national acts people have been waiting for may be here, Rainsdon said.
At the Avalon, there may will be cinema-style events returning in the next couple of months, but with restrictions, she said.
As for other events scheduled between January and mid-June, organizers are tentatively planning and making no promises.
Although the Fruita Fat Tire Festival is offering registration for its 25th anniversary event set for May 7–9, Epic Rides’ Grand Junction Off-Road, scheduled for May 14–16, is not.
The annual Mike the
Headless Chicken Festival is set for June 4–5 in Fruita and right now it’s tough to predict if it will happen, said Tom Casal, recreation superintendent with Fruita Parks and Recreation.
How to approach planning for big events in 2021 is something Casal said he will be having meetings about in early January.
Downtown Grand Junction is waiting until it gets closer to the start of its spring season before it will begin determining best practices for its events as it communicates with the Mesa County Health Department, said event coordinator Rykel Menor.
The Art Center of Western Colorado isn’t waiting to plan its May 1 major benefit event, “Paint the Town: The Great Art Heist,” and is ready to be flexible.
“Paint the Town” will be an online event, “but if it looks like we can, we’re building logistics into it so we can shift it to in-person,” said Lee Borden, executive director.
When it comes to events in 2021, “everyone is trying to be as nimble as possible,” he said.
The Art Center is still planning exhibitions and welcoming patrons during the early months of the new year and “cautiously optimistic” things will open up more as the year goes on, he said.
“It’s just been hard to get people through the door because people are cautious,” Borden said.
As the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra continues its season, it is keeping concert dates — the next one is Feb. 6–7 — and allowing for changes with programs, said Charles Latshaw, music director for the symphony.
Latshaw was looking at 25 musicians performing Mozart’s 25th symphony in February, but beyond that he wasn’t sure. However, he was hopeful that the smaller concerts the symphony has had to turn to in recent months will be able to get bigger by spring.
He was even more hopeful that by the beginning of the symphony’s next season in August things will be “reasonably normal, or closer to normal for us. But there’s no way of predicting any of this,” Latshaw said.
“There is at least a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Rick Christensen, general manager and talent buyer for Mesa Theater, referring not only to being able to have events, but to being able simply survive financially.
The $15 billion Save Our Stages Act, which was part of the recently approved federal COVID-19 relief bill, will likely save many independent venues through federal grants, and the $7.5 million Colorado Arts Relief Fund that offers state grants to those in the arts community also will help, said Christensen, who is a board member with the Colorado Independent Venue Association.
However, until grants get accepted and approved, COVID-19 case numbers go down and restrictions with them, “everything looks dismal,” said Christensen, who had to lay off Mesa Theater’s staff with the recent surge of COVID-19.
“I think people are eager to do things, the hardest thing is dealing with misinformation,” he said.
People are confused about everything from what it takes to get artists to the Grand Valley to COVID restrictions for events or for Mesa Theater, he said.
“Unfortunately, it’s become like a political thing. It’s not supposed to be. All of us are trying to survive,” Christensen said.
And while putting together fundraisers for Mesa Theater, he’s evaluating what kind of acts — 2020 was good for comedy and 2021 may be too, he said — might be possible once things get better and the theater can have 150 or more people at a show.
“It’s going to be an interesting year,” Christensen said. “But I think people will be eager.”