After a very long pandemic year, the arts scene in Flagstaff is re-emerging, bringing music, performance and visual arts back to eager northern Arizona audiences.
Go to the calendar page of the historic Orpheum Theater and you’ll see there’s already half a dozen shows booked for next month, including two comedians, a mini blues festival (seven hours, five featured performers) and a Pride Party.
Meanwhile, June 4 will mark the formal return of the First Friday ArtWalk (now called ArtWalk FLG). The Viola Awards – Flagstaff’s answer to the Oscars for the arts and sciences community – will hold its ceremony on June 18. Then in July, Theatrikos will be back with an outdoor show at The Arboretum.
“The coming of summer is always a special time for arts, culture, and community life in Flagstaff,” said Jonathan Stone, executive director of the Flagstaff Arts Council. “It’s even more special this year. Our cultural nonprofits and businesses are resilient and we can’t wait to see the safe and creative ways they bring our community together in person again.”
Even though arts venues and events are returning, it isn’t business as usual. ArtWalk will not have its signature performances at Heritage Square this time around, although the Flagstaff Arts Council will be manning an information booth where people can pick up ArtWalk maps and have questions answered. Most businesses featuring artworks will probably require masks and some will ask patrons to practice social distancing or have limited entry.
Safety concerns were a primary reason that Theatrikos will be holding performances of the play “Native Gardens” at The Arboretum, according to Issi Rayner-Fried, the theater’s safety coordinator.
“The Arboretum allows for great social distancing and has the best air circulation Mother Nature has to offer,” said Rayner-Fried, who was specifically recruited to help the theater navigate the pandemic.
Even with the changes due to COVID-19, audiences seem eager to get our and celebrate the arts. When tickets first went on sale for the Viola Awards, which will be held on June 18 at the Pepsi Amphitheater, they sold out in just three days.
The Arts Council has worked with Coconino County Parks & Recreation and Health & Human Services to add more tickets to the venue to allow more people to see the awards ceremony. Tickets for spots on the lawn are now being sold in “pods” with a maximum of six guests.
Our arts sector is not just a huge part of what makes Flagstaff a special place; it’s an economic engine that generates millions of dollars in revenue for our community. It is a very positive and heartening sign to see it making a comeback.