Darke County Center for the Arts Artistic Director David Warner had lined up a wonderful season for the upcoming year, with diverse artists providing an exciting array of talents in a program year themed around “Vision” in recognition of the year 2020 also providing the numbers that measure perfect sight. And then…well, ever-changing expectations and fears surrounding the global pandemic swirled into a cycle of necessary changes and cancellations more appropriate to the DCCA “Kaleidoscope” theme of 2019 than a clear vision of what will, can, or might actually happen.
David, who says that he has spent more time canceling and re-scheduling than actually booking shows, states that DCCA will continue to do everything possible to fulfill its mission while keeping patrons and artists safe and healthy during this unprecedented era where each new day comes with a new reality, from evolving state guidelines regarding crowd size or rising numbers in COVID-19 cases or artists needing to take full-time non-touring jobs in order to make a living.
But let me tell you of the glorious plan, a truly bittersweet tale if it never comes to fruition, but something to hope for at least in bit and pieces some day. DCCA’s Artists Series at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall was set to start off with a bang on October 10 with the Shaun Johnson Big Band Experience, featuring a singer channeling the swinging Sinatra but from a new and inventive perspective. Next, on November 7, Nashville Rocker Mike Farris was set to bring his earthy energy and Grammy Award winning soulful vocal delivery to the Memorial Hall stage. And then, for something completely different, amazing magician Daniel Martin was set to perform his thrilling sleight of hand to charm, thrill, and confound audiences of all ages on March 27. The fabulous sounds of Toledo Symphony Orchestra were scheduled to fill the Hall on May 29, creating a grand finale to another memorable Artists Series season. Some or all of that might yet happen; but a clear vision of the future is simply not possible at this moment in time.
And that’s not the end of the wonders DCCA has planned. A truly special holiday presentation was scheduled for December 5, when a stage version of the heartwarming Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street is booked to share its magical story with our community. Another unique and special event planned for February 27, “Motones vs. Jerseys,” features a fun-filled competition pitting a group performing the hits of The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and other Motown greats against another ensemble singing songs made famous by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the Beach Boys, and more; the audience chooses the winners in a contest where no one truly loses.
What will youngsters and their families looking forward to DCCA’s Family Theatre Series actually get to see in the upcoming season? Well, The Very Hungry Caterpillar Christmas will not be among the presentations; due to the national health crisis, the tour of this highly anticipated seasonal production was canceled. The Boy Who Cried Wolf, based on the famous Aesop fable, is scheduled for February 21 and Giraffes Can’t Dance, about Gerald the giraffe who longs to dance in spite of his awkwardness is set for February 27; however, a realistic vision of the future cannot extend into next month, let alone next year—so when predictions are not possible, only hopeful speculation occurs.
DCCA’s Coffeehouse Series may occur in some form; these intimate concerts in a casual, comfortable atmosphere provide delightful moments and treasured memories, and often coordinate with DCCA’s Arts In Education series that presents professional performing artists to students in every grade of all local public schools. But will students even be in the buildings, what will schools’ schedules look like, will teachers want to include an enriching, enlightening entertaining program that takes an hour away from valuable instruction time? These and other unanswered questions leave DCCA seeing no clear path to realistically plan for an unknowable future. To be continued…
Marilyn Delk is the former executive director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.