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Curtain closes on COVID-19, opening Vernon stage for live events

After 16 months of empty seats, Performing Arts Centre is ready to welcome back guests
Multi-instrumentalist Harry Manx is slated to take the stage in Vernon for a show in July. (Shimon Karmel photo)

After 16 months in COVID shutdown, live music and theatre is ready to return to the stage.

“Although some important procedural details remain, it’s what we’ve been waiting for,” Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre (VDPAC) executive director Jim Harding said.

“And in many ways, we have not been waiting at all. We’ve been working towards reopening since March 2020.”

Currently in an annual maintenance shutdown until July 29, the centre is finalizing details for a Spotlight OnStage concert for the end of July featuring multi-instrumentalist Harry Manx.

The cabaret-style event, with patrons seated right on the main stage, will be similar to two sold-out concerts held last November.

But first, Harding said they have to confirm the audience capacity to ensure safety.

Details and tickets will be announced shortly, then the cabaret concert-style will also be opened to other artists looking to perform for in-person audiences, live-streaming or recordings for online broadcasts.

B.C.’s Restart Step 3 plan currently allows audiences at 50 per cent of seating capacity — which is a maximum of 375 guests at the Performing Arts Centre.

The centre is currently developing a Step 3 seating map for groups looking to go ahead with their own restart events in August and beyond.

Promoters of major commercial tours may wait for unrestricted indoor audience sizes, which are expected later this fall.

Step 4 comes is expected to come into effect Sept. 7 but currently only states “increases” for indoor gatherings. A return to full capacity audiences remains to be confirmed.

The VDPAC’s programming will initially focus on a series of 24 performances and a new Children’s Festival in March.

Traditional concerts and events, including Christmas concerts, are still to be confirmed.

Meanwhile, a number of major full house touring concerts are re-booked or currently on hold for later this fall, including Colin James Nov. 14, the Glorious Suns in January 2022 and the Beaches in March.

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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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