The arts push back, the show must go on

Cheyenne Green, Isolation 19,

Acrylic on canvas, 11” x 14”,

2020, Painting I

The lights that once illuminated the stages of the Lehigh Valley are now dark with questions about how to continue providing art programs and shows amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 9, Governor Tom Wolf announced that all non-essential staff should close their doors and self-quarantine, which affected local art communities.

Theatre is known to bring heart, light, drama, fear and catharsis to audiences. All across the country it became unsafe to occupy spaces filled with theatre goers or any large gatherings. The love scenes, fight sequences, and friendly hugs were stopped in their tracks for stage actors while COVID-19 rips through the country.

However, Artsquest, a beacon for the arts in the Lehigh Valley, is offering online programming called Artsquest@home. Located in Downtown Bethlehem, ArtsQuest is home to Musikfest, Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas, and a variety of comedy shows/workshops.

Senior Director of Communications, Mark Demko, was proud to share that Artsquest has launched more than 100 online events- a milestone for the organization.

The arts at Lehigh Carbon Community College haven’t gone unscathed, with the end of semester theatre arts showcase being cancelled.

Professor Ben Peruso of the theater arts programs at LCCC states, “Since time began, the arts have found a way to help whatever situation was at hand... the students have been performing theatrical monologues over the internet... while doctors sing and others tell jokes to relieve the pressure and the world takes a breath.”

Lisa Jordan, Managing Director of Touchstone Theatre in Bethlehem, said that the theatre has overcome challenges in the past.

“Touchstone Theatre is in its 39th year of creating original theatre, offering powerful arts education residencies and transforming the community,” she said. “We are flexible, creative folk used to working smart and on a shoestring budget. We will survive.”