Walton Arts Center announces $1 million campaign to meet revenue shortfall amid COVID-19 pandemic

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 911 views 

The Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville has postponed Broadway shows and performances with audiences of more than 200 until January 2021 and launched the Ghost Light Recovery Fund to help cover a nearly $1 million shortfall to keep the organization operational.

The shortfall was created by the loss of programming as a result of safety restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19, according to a news release.

“It will be some time before we can resume business as usual at our venues,” said Peter Lane, president and CEO of Walton Arts Center. “Because each show involves several hundred cast and crew members and draws thousands of audience members, it is almost impossible to socially distance and remain safe. The health and safety of our audience, performers and staff are our top priorities.”

The 2020-21 season was set to start in September, but only the shows in the P&G Broadway Series had been announced and on sale for subscribers. Of those shows, “My Fair Lady” was rescheduled from September to July 28 to Aug. 1, 2021, and “An Officer and a Gentleman” was reset to March 30 to April 4, 2021. New dates for “Mean Girls” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” have yet to be determined. The remainder of the series will continue as planned, including “Fiddler on the Roof” in April, “Come From Away” in May and “Freestyle Love Supreme” in June.

This fall, the Walton Arts Center will focus on performances with small audiences to meet safety measures. Also, its staff will focus on arts integration training for teachers and create online content for teachers and parents to use during the upcoming school year.

Ticket sales comprise the largest revenue source for the Walton Arts Center and the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion (AMP) in Rogers, and the venues face a year of loss in programming. The venues have taken steps to reduce expenses, but they still face a more than $1 million deficit to remain operational.

Over the past few months, the Walton Arts Center has received more than $534,000 in ticket donations and one-time gifts, and this has led to the launch of the Ghost Light Recovery Fund. A ghost light is a longtime theatrical tradition, the news release shows. When theaters are unoccupied, a light is left burning to provide for a safe return to the stage. A ghost light has been on the Walton Art Center’s stage since programming was suspended in March.

The Ghost Light Recovery Fund will help to offset the lost revenue from canceled performances, continue education and intermission programming, maintain facilities and support staff until performances can resume. Link here for the fund website.