Utah County live venues transition back to normalcy

Two actors perform in “Bums” at the Angelus Theatre. Live venues in Utah County are changing their protocols as COVID-19 restrictions loosen. (Stephan Gashler)

Live venues in Utah County are now making moves to re-open as COVID-19 restrictions loosen.

Live venues initially shut down while they figured out how to run during the pandemic. Some venues have tried to safely bring in audiences, while others have not. Many venues have turned to virtual shows to keep business and theater alive.

Covey Center

At the Covey Center for the Arts, audiences can now sit shoulder-to-shoulder after Utah County moved to a moderate transmission area. The theater still offers socially distanced seating for patrons who prefer it.

“The vaccine isn’t necessarily changing it directly for us. We’re just going step by step as Utah’s restrictions change,” said Lauren Gibb, the Covey Center’s marketing specialist. “So once Utah moved down from high to moderate we were able to limit social distancing but we still require masks at all times.”

One way the Covey Center has tried to keep theater alive during the pandemic is through its Excellence Concert Series, where the center donates stage time to performers. The performances are streamed virtually and often get tens of thousands of views.

The Covey Center is hopeful that restrictions will continue to be rolled back at a safe rate.

“We are planning as if things will get better by summer or fall,” Gibb said.

Angelus Theatre

Spanish Fork’s Angelus Theatre canceled events for three months after the pandemic struck.

Angelus Theatre followed all the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention such as social distancing, masks and sanitation.

In order to meet all these requirements, the Angelus Theatre took advantage of the Spanish Fork Chamber of Commerce’s offer of free supplies. Through this program the theater received masks, cleaning supplies and thermometers.

According to owner Curt Gordon, Angelus Theatre lost about 3/4 of its events in 2020 and is now playing catch-up.

“We’re really excited for the mask mandate to go away because we know that will mean that things are going in the right direction, so that will be a very exciting time,” Gordon said.

The Angelus Theatre also offered music videos and live theater online starting in April 2020.

“We are excited to get people under our roof for real, rather than just on the internet,” Gordon said. “You really get the full experience when you’re there in the flesh.”

Bill’s Warehouse

At Bill’s Warehouse, a live music venue in Provo, there has not been a single show since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even when we’re allowed to go full capacity, we’re not going to just go immediately to it. We’re going to make a slow transition,” co-owner Ford Harris said.

Fortunately for Bill’s Warehouse, it also has a store where it sells music and instruments, which has been the source of revenue since it stopped doing live shows a year ago.

Harris said they are beginning to schedule some smaller events for the future, while still remaining local. “If we could be running shows at a 50% capacity at the end of the year that would be great.”

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