Walton Arts Center postpones large-scale programming until 2021, announce new fund to help cover shortfalls

File photo

Walton Arts Center officials on Tuesday announced the venue won’t host large-scale performances until 2021, and the organization has created a new ‘Ghost Light Recovery Fund’ to help cover revenue shortfalls created by the cancellation of programming as a result of COVID-19.

The performing arts center has postponed Broadway shows and all other performances with audiences of more than 200 people until at least Jan. 2021.

“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 upcoming season had originally scheduled to begin in September with My Fair Lady. That show has been rescheduled for next Summer.

Mean Girls, originally scheduled for November, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in December, will also be rescheduled. The remaining Broadway shows scheduled for early next year will go on as scheduled for now.

Ticket holders to these, and other large shows scheduled for this fill, will be contacted directly as soon as scheduling changes are finalized, officials said.

Facing programming losses at the Walton Arts Center and Walmart AMP, officials say they are expecting a deficit of more than $1 million this year, and are hoping to make up some of that ground with the new Ghost Light Recovery Fund. Proceeds from donations to the fund will go to offset lost revenue from canceled performances, to help continue education and intermission programming, and to help maintain facilities and support staff until full-scale performances can resume.

For those who aren’t familiar, a ghost light is a longstanding theatrical tradition that when theaters are unoccupied, a single light a left burning on stage to light the way for a safe return to the state.

WAC officials say their ghost light has been on stage since the programming suspension in March.

Those who’d like to contribute to the Ghost Light Recovery Fund may do so by donating at waltonartscenter.org/ghostlight.