Walton Arts Center schedules first show since COVID-19 shutdowns

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,154 views 

Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville. PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Barera.

Grammywinning singer-songwriter Bonnie Bishop will be the first artist to take the stage at Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville since programming was suspended in March due to health and safety precautions for COVID-19. Bishop was originally scheduled to perform on March 21 as part of the West Street Live Series presented by Neal Pendergraft.

Bishop’s rescheduled performance, now set for Thursday, Sept. 10, at 8 p.m., has been moved from Starr Theater to Baum Walker Hall. A limited number of balcony tickets are still available.

While large-scale performances are suspended through at least January 2021, smaller-scale “intermission programming” with less than 200 patrons has been made possible in part by the Ghost Light Recovery Fund.

“We surveyed patrons who had tickets to the March show to see how they felt about attending the rescheduled performance in September,” Jennifer Ross, director of Programming for Walton Arts Center, said in a statement. “And the majority said that they would attend with safety protocols in place. Then we reached out to Bonnie, and she was more than happy to have the opportunity to perform. Bonnie’s amazing voice will bring Baum Walker Hall back to life. We can’t wait.”

Relocating the performance with an audience of less than 200 to a larger theater allows for a minimum of four empty seats between parties and every other row will remain empty. The empty rows, with select seats removed, will also serve as walkways to seats located in the center of the theater and reduce contact with other patrons seated in that row.

Walton Arts Center has implemented additional health and safety precautions to protect patrons, staff, volunteers and artists from the spread of COVID-19. The precautions have been approved by the Arkansas Department of Health and include:

  • Patrons will be required to wear face coverings when in the venue, except when consuming food or drink.
  • Concessions – including a full bar and beverage menu and pre-packaged snacks – will be available for cashless purchase only.
  • Tickets will be emailed to patrons and can be scanned directly from a smartphone to reduce contact. Volunteers will not touch patrons’ phones.
  • Bathroom and elevator capacities will be limited and monitored.
  • Plexiglass shields have been added to all transaction points including the box office and concessions.
  • The venue will be cleaned and disinfected before and after each event. In addition to our typical cleaning practices staff will be wiping down commonly touched surfaces and using disinfectant foggers in the theater and seating area.
  • Doors to Walton Arts Center and to the theater will open 45 minutes prior to the scheduled show time. Patrons are encouraged to purchase concessions and use the restrooms when they arrive and then proceed directly to their seats to reduce congregating in the lobby and traffic in the aisles.

Staff members and volunteers will have their temperature checked each time they arrive for work, wear face coverings when interacting with performers, the public or each other and are required to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer at least once every hour while at work.