The lights are dim on the stages of the Averitt Center for the Arts, due to the current pandemic.
Averitt Executive Director Rahn Hutcheson says the standard operating procedure at the center is that when Bulloch County schools close, the youth art education programs close. The schools did just that earlier this month, and the Averitt followed suit.
Then, Hutcheson said, on March 16, as Averitt leadership met to determine what to do, they received communication from Mayor Jonathan McCollar which encouraged city departments and affiliates to cancel all events that include public participation for the next eight weeks. The mayor also discouraged the community from attending events during that time frame that would include 50 or more people. This was to include F1RST Friday, which has been cancelled for April and May, and all public performance events at the Averitt.
Hutcheson says he and the staff at the Averitt had already begun the process of postponing several events, and were hopeful that by the first part of May, they would be able to begin rescheduling.
“We were being naïve about that,” he said. “We’ve moved most of our community events beyond that eight-week period, which is actually May 11. May was going to be a really busy month for us. So we’ve had to back things up into June.”
Cancelled events include Myrna Clayton, Barefoot Comedy: Andrew Rivers and Robert Mac: Standup Comedy.
Events that have been postponed and will be rescheduled include Bowls in the Boro, Lady Legends of Country, Miss Bulloch County/GSU Relay for Life pageant, All Fired Up! Exhibition & Sale, ONE: Donald Chavers, School of Rock and Roll in Tribute and “A Lovesong for Miss Lydia.”
Hutcheson says “Disney’s Frozen Jr.” and “A Lovesong for Miss Lydia" will be rescheduled for performance in the next season, which will likely be this summer.
“We are planning that right now, but this could change,” he said. “Who knows what the future holds? Who knows? We’ve only cancelled a few things. We’re postponing the majority of them; we’re just backing them up as much as we can."
All dance studio rentals have also been postponed, and Hutcheson says the student youth art education classes have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. The Visual Arts ceramics studio is offering open studio time, and there are adult drop-in ballet classes. There are also private lessons on on guitar, piano and voice, by Robert Cottle in his third floor studio at the Averitt Center. Cottle is also offering lessons online.
Those who utilize the ceramics studio must sign a liability waiver. Hutcheson says the facilities are being cleaned with anti-germicide bleach that lists human coronavirus as one of the viruses it will kill.
The Averitt Center will also have new hours for the public. The center will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Hutcheson says they are currently working on putting together the summer camp schedule, and things are looking bright.
“It looks like we’re going to shape up to have a good season, if we have a season. God only knows how long this is going to go on,” he said. “But we’ve got a lot of good shows planned for next year, and a lot of good events. We’re kind of excited about the way things are looking for next year. We’re sad that we’re having to shutter our doors and cancel some things and postpone other things, but it’s for the common good.”