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Welcome Back to the Arts

Projecting Light Through Darkness installation on view at Jacob Burns Film Center (photo credit: Ed Cody)

     The popular saying tells us that April showers bring May flowers. In 2021, April may bring other signs of springtime renewal, including the gradual return of in-person arts events and performances.  Beginning April 2, arts and entertainment venues can reopen at 33 percent capacity, with a maximum capacity of 100 people indoors and up to 200 people outdoors.  Further, if all audience members can show proof of a negative virus test, capacity can increase to up to 150 people indoors and up to 500 people outdoors. This is music to the ears of arts groups and performance venues, most of which have not welcomed an in-person audience in more than a year.  Westchester venues have eagerly awaited this guidance, and many are ready with programs and performances to share safely with their audiences.
      Taconic Opera will resume its spring season with a production of La Traviata in a nontraditional setting – the football field in Peekskill’s Depew Park.  The April 24 and 25 performances will welcome up to 100 audience members each.  The company’s general director, Dan Montez, says: “We feel so grateful to be bringing opera back to the public as we start to come out of this difficult year for the arts.  The arts are such a vital part of our communities, and we are doing everything we can as an organization to bring our singing back safely and yet still stay true to the beauty of the art form.”
     Beginning April 17, Ballet des Ameriques will hold a series of performances in its Port Chester studio over the course of several weekends in April and May. This series, ” Evenings of Dance in Westchester,” will feature new works, as well as established ones from the the company’s repertoire, choreographed by Director and Founder Carole Alexis.
Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC) in Pleasantville was an early adopter of safety protocols for its venue, including contactless ticketing and the installation of new filtration systems to clean air particles. The Film Center will finally put these plans to good use when it welcomes back its audience beginning April 30. In celebration, JBFC is displaying “Projecting Light Through Darkness,” an outdoor light installation that brightens its façade after a yearlong somber period for the Center and its community. The installation will be on view seven days a week from 7-11pm through April 27.
     Despite reopening, the JBFC will continue to offer films through its Virtual Marquee online screening program.  This approach to reopening is echoed by many organizations that will preserve an online component of programming in order to continue serving those who are not able, or are not yet ready, to see live entertainment.
     For those looking to view their films in Southern Westchester, the Picture House Regional Film Center has also reopened its doors for screenings.
     The live outdoor summer performances at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, with jazz, folk, American roots and more, have become a tradition for music lovers of all ages. Caramoor will continue to livestream its spring season while it refines plans for its anticipated reduced-capacity summer season. The 2021 lineup, along with safety protocols, will be announced on April 13.
     With new health and safety guidelines being introduced and updated regularly, April signals the beginning of what may be a months-long process of reopening Westchester’s cultural community.  The arts have always been an important part of the culture of Westchester. Now, as it works towards recovery, it will continue to help the community heal and move forward. Soon, it can do so in person.

A version of this article first appeared in the April issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.

About Susan Abbott

Susan Abbott is Associate Director of Programs at ArtsWestchester.

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