The arts are back, mostly outdoors

The Common Threads quilting exhibit will open in the Purcell Gallery at the Louisa Arts Center on July 10. Visitors are asked to wear masks when inside the building. On the same evening, a music and wine event will take place outside from 6 to 8 p.m.


The sound of music will return to the Louisa Arts Center outdoor terrace next week, and visitors will be invited to enjoy a quilting show in the Purcell Gallery.

It has been a trying few months for the arts center, which was forced to abruptly cancel the rest of the 2019-20 season when the pandemic struck in March. While some events will resume this month, performances in the Cooke-Haley Theatre are on hold for now.

“We want to give people a little bit of hope and something to look forward to,” said Karen Welch, the arts center’s executive director. 

The return of Music and Wine at Sunset on the tree-shaded terrace on July 10 at 6 p.m. will feature The Cold North, a Virginia father-and-daughter duo. Unlike at past terrace events, food will not be served, but drinks will be available in disposable cups.

Two of the previously planned five youth summer camps will begin later this month, including music education (Camp Bravo) and behind-the-scenes theatrical production (Camp Sight and Sound). These activities don’t require a lot of rapid movement or physical contact, unlike the theatre performance or singing camps. Some camp sessions may be held on the outdoor terrace. Small art classes for adults and children are also planned outside. 

Welch said she and her staff have consulted at length with a national camp association to get the best health guidance, in addition to following state officials’ rules. 

“We asked all the camp directors how they felt about running them,” she said. “We did have a couple of them say no, because they are immunocompromised or have family who are.” 

The need for social distancing and wearing masks when indoors makes bringing back live performances especially tricky. Still, arts center staff hope to reopen the theatre by September, having rescheduled some shows that were canceled in the spring. Welch plans to hire a box office assistant in time for the new theatre season.

“My mantra is, ‘longer is stronger,’” Welch said. “Hopefully this will put us in a stronger position—we don’t want to open and then have to close again.”

Fundraising, always a priority for the arts center, has continued through the pandemic. Staff successfully applied for a loan through the federal Payroll Protection Program, which can be converted to a grant, and have received help from other funders such as the Virginia Commission for the Arts. 

Recently the arts center set a goal to raise $100,000 through Birdies for Charity, through which it receives a 10 percent bonus on donations. People can give money to fund various programs and the funds will count toward the $100,000 figure. For example, Edge Concrete Co., Inc. and Harris Electric Co. of Manassas and Richmond, respectively, helped pay for the Music and Wine events. To donate, go to this web link:

The Music and Wine at Sundown continues on July 24, with more shows scheduled on the second and fourth Fridays in August.


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