Hobbled by the pandemic, these local cultural organizations are finding creative ways to stay connected

Michael Kaczurak and Monica Johns in Deception at the Disco, presented by Las Vegas Little Theatre and A Touch of Mystery
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

The show must go on. Not since the plague closed Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre has that saying been so sorely tested. In this time of COVID-19, Nevada officials have curtailed most live performances to protect public health. But the Valley’s cultural arts organizations—with the help of modern technology—are working hard to survive and possibly even thrive in 2020. Here’s what some such local entities are doing to stay connected to their patrons during these crazy times. (Needless to say, all of them could benefit from your financial support.)

A Public Fit Theatre Company In September, when A Public Fit usually debuts its new season, the theater troupe will instead debut a new podcast. Tentatively titled Behind the Buzz, the planned weekly show will include actor interviews, conversations with playwrights, behind-the-scenes stories and more. To stay nimble, company actors have been privately reading plays on Zoom. And as soon as things are safe, the group will perform the play Sense and Sensibility, which has been held due to COVID-19. APF has even finished building the set. apublicfit.org

Las Vegas Little Theatre

Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned whodunnit? LVLT is partnering with A Touch of Mystery to present Deception at the Disco, a livestreamed murder mystery benefit performance, on August 1. The theater company will also present online-only encore performances of The Quarantine Monologues on July 31 and August 2. lvlt.org

Las Vegas Philharmonic

Stay in tune by visiting the LV Phil’s Music Connection web portal, which offers online and archival resources about music and the symphony orchestra. Kids can learn about music though the Orkidstra Online portal. And don’t miss the Phil’s MusicWise Facebook Live series, Tuesdays at 1 p.m. Join the Phil’s Music Director Donato Cabrera in conversation with special guests, including soprano Camille Zamora (August 4); pianist/composer Charlie Albright (August 11); and composers Juan Pablo Contreras and Viet Cuong (August 18). lvphil.org.

Majestic Repertory Theatre

This scrappy theater on Main Street garnered national attention for its socially distanced drive-thru shows. With no traditional performances planned for 2020, Majestic is directing its focus to other outlets, such as interactive online experiences, audio dramas, Zoom readings of new plays, filmmaking and more. To keep the creative juices flowing, Majestic has launched an online fundraising account campaign. It plans to do “at least one new project a month,” according to its Patreon page. patreon.com/majesticrep

Mondays Dark

Hosted by Vegas personality Mark Shunock, this benefit variety show is now livestreaming its events. Each performance benefits a different charity or nonprofit organization. Upcoming events benefit Michael’s Angel Paws (August 10), Spectrum on Ice (August 24) and Ashley Strong Fundation (September 10). Mondays Dark recently raised more than $122,000 for the Actors Fund. mondaysdark.com

Nevada Ballet Theatre

Instead of performing at the Smith Center, Nevada Ballet Theatre is taking residence in your living room with its new [email protected] platform, Focal Pointe newsletter and Dance On with NBT initiative. These programs will keep audiences connected, offer behind-the-scenes stories, a look into the archives, the latest news and a way to connect with the artistic director. nevadaballet.org

Poor Richard’s Players

Early in the pandemic, Poor Richard’s Players hosted online Playhouse Storytime events, in which Las Vegas actors gave dramatic book readings. The troupe plans to bring back a limited run of those, and is also discussing streaming full-length shows it has been rehearsing on Zoom. Watch for updates at facebook.com/poorrichardsplayers, and donate to the company at theplayhouselv.com.

The Smith Center

The performing arts center is closed indefinitely, but it’s keeping the show going on its social media accounts and website. There, young fans can watch tutorials and stories from “teaching artists,” and adults can watch Living Room Sessions—with highlights from the Composers Showcase series—on Facebook. facebook.com/pg/thesmith center/videos

Vegas Theatre Company

Next month, the group formerly known as Cockroach Theatre will announce its new season, which will be livestreamed. The actors will perform in the theater space as the audience watches from home. Multiple cameras will mimic the feel of live theater. “It really captures the live experience, because we’re all there together at the same time,” Artistic Director Daz Weller says. As restrictions loosen, VTC plans to do a hybrid version with small live audiences complemented by online viewers. theatre.vegas

Finally, some good news

This month Nevada Humanities, with help from the federal CARES Act and the National Endowment for the Humanities, is awarding $368,873 to 46 cultural organizations in Nevada. These CARES Emergency Relief Grants are designed to help with operating costs in the short term.

“Our cultural nonprofit organizations and their staff members are struggling, and we hope these grants will provide some much needed assistance to help pay salaries and keep the lights on around the state,” Nevada Humanities Executive Director Christina Barr said in a news release. “Our goal is to help sustain Nevada’s cultural infrastructure as much as possible, given the hurdles that we all face.”

Southern Nevada recipients include: the Mob Museum ($15,000); Dam Short Film Society ($5,000); Discovery Children’s Museum ($10,000); Jazz Outreach Initiative ($5,000); Las Vegas Natural History Museum ($15,000); Las Vegas Philharmonic ($15,000); National Test Site Historical Foundation ($15,000); Neon Museum ($15,000); Nevada Women’s Film Collective ($5,000); Poetry Promise, Inc. ($5,000); Project Real ($5,000); Vegas City Opera ($5,000); Springs Preserve Foundation ($7,500); T. Black Entertainment Inc. ($2,000); and the Smith Center ($15,000).

These grants only the scratch the surface of an arts organization’s needs. Even if your favorite entity received money from the CARES Act, they could always use—and appreciate—your further support.

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