Innovation is the name of the game for most theaters during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly since an artform that gathers people together in a small space will be among the last to reopen. So, Golden’s Miners Alley Playhouse has been doing just that — livestreaming the first entry in the Quarantine Cabaret series and hosting summer camps at Southridge Park. But it still has the same concern that so many have — earning the funding necessary to keep creating.
“As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, one of our greatest strengths before the pandemic was that 70% of our income was earned income from ticket sales, classes and camps,” said Len Matheo, executive and artistic director at Miners. “We weren’t overly reliant on donated income, but now that strength has become a weakness, as we seek to bring income into the theater when we can’t produce any income from ticket sales, classes or camps.”
Especially with the theater deciding to close its doors through the end of 2020, the situation is going to get precarious quickly. In an effort to make it less so, the theater’s annual mid-year fundraiser is more important than ever. Up until 2019, Miners Alley had only two fundraising events — Colorado Gives Day and one other.
“I was brought in last year to ramp up development at Miners Alley, and we’re going to be bringing other fundraising initiatives in the future,” said Leslie A. Rutherford, director of marketing and audience development. “We’ve also been applying to grants to help the theater.”
In 2019 the theater had its best year yet, with more than 20,000 patrons passing through its doors, Matheo said. In the five or so months that the theater has been closed, those same audience and community members have been extremely generous with their support — both financial and otherwise.
“It’s really heartening to see how much our patrons care about us,” he said. “The majority of them have donated the money from their tickets back to us, and so many donations have been accompanied by notes of support.”
Matheo and the rest of the staff are already working on next year’s season, with the aim of reopening in January. The season is expected to include the production of “The Crucible” that was supposed to be staged this year and new shows with small casts, social distancing and other safety protocols in place. The plan is also to provide livestreaming viewing options for those who don’t feel comfortable attending in person.
That livestreaming plan makes the new Quarantine Cabaret series — which debuted on July 18 with John Hauser, the star of “Once,” and David Nehls, musical director of “Once” — a kind of test run to see how livestreaming an event would go for. Combined with the positive reviews the online and outdoor summer camps have been receiving, there’s a lot to be excited for in the future.
Supporters should check Miner Alley’s social media and website, www.minersalley.com, for updates on special programs and reopening dates.
Mixed tastes series yields dual rewards
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Off-Center program and Museum of Contemporary Art Denver have partnered to bring the Mixed Taste lectures online and for free. The series began in 2004 and features two speakers, talking for 20 minutes each on completely unrelated subjects, followed by questions from the audience on both topics at the same time, according to provided information.
Upcoming topics include everything from napping and Slovenian zombies to church signs and Icelandic hip-hop. Entries will premiere at 7 p.m. every Wednesday through Aug. 19.
Registration for the virtual lectures is available at www.denvercenter.org/tickets-events/mixed-taste.
Clarke’s Concert of the Week — Beethoven 7
The Colorado Music Festival went to a virtual format instead of the Chautauqua Auditorium’s beautiful space this summer, but that hasn’t stopped the music from being uniformly excellent. The festival is ending at 7:30 p.m. on July 30 with Beethoven 7.
Featuring performances by members of the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, the Ivalas Quartet and piano duo Michelle and Christina Naughton, the finale features two movements from Ludwig Van’s legendary Seventh Symphony and more.
For information and details, visit www.coloradomusicfestival.org.
Streaming style — ‘The Long Dumb Road’
During this shutdown period, if most of us are traveling anywhere, it’s by car. So now is the perfect time to catch up on Hannah Fidell’s “The Long Dumb Road,” which I caught at the Vail Film Festival back in 2018.
It stars Jason Mantzoukas and Tony Revolori as two men who spontaneously meet on the road to Los Angeles, and while there are laughs aplenty, the film aims for more than jokes. They’re real people, struggling to start a new stage in their lives, and it just happens to be hilarious.
There’s a rich cinematic history of mismatched pairs taking to the road, and if “The Long Dumb Road” doesn’t break any new ground, it’s also much more than funny. Watch it on Netflix.
Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at Clarke.Reader@hotmail.com.
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