Summer 2021 events can happen, but they won’t look the same

Entertainment

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Summertime is approaching and Governor Dan Mckee said Thursday he is working to make sure pre-planned events can go off without a hitch.

The pandemic forced WaterFire to stop its art installation and events at it’s arts center.

They’ve lost well over $1 million in the last year, but Managing Director Peter Mello said they’re hopeful with vaccines and loosened restrictions they can start a new chapter.

“WaterFire brings people together, it’s a community building organization and nearly everyone is proud of it,” Mello said.

WateFire is having an event on April 1 for 401Gives, a statewide day of giving, to help them raise money to hold the event this summer. Donations can be made online.

“We still need funding to support the WaterFire events and not only that to ramp up for them,” Mello said. “People don’t realize it’s going to take us about two months to get ready.”

McKee said he understands those concerns.

“I want to make sure events like the Newport Jazz Festival are in position to continue their unbelievable work for the state of Rhode Island,” he said.

The organizers of these festivals can submit requests on the Department of Business Regulation’s website to see how they can safely hold their events this summer.

“We are working closely with the Newport Folk and Jazz Festival on a plan that could allow them to host a safe event this summer that allows testing and other safety protocols,” McKee said.

A spokesperson for the Newport Festivals Foundation said, though it won’t be the same, they’re thrilled to host the annual event.

“We are working hand in hand with state and local government and various health officials to ensure that what we present will set a benchmark for safety and transparency through our protocols and communication,” the foundation said in a statement.

The spokesperson said they will be sharing more details on what we can expect at the festivals soon.

Also during Thursday’s briefing, the R.I. Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor said venues of assembly, such as theaters and performing arts venues, can request state approval for 1,000 participants or up to 10% capacity beginning May 1.

“The future looks bright,” Pryor said. “We expect that during the summer, larger events can begin to happen in Rhode Island.”

But the increased capacity doesn’t mean all venues can open. A spokesperson for the Providence Performing Arts Center tells 12 News they won’t be able to reopen unless they’re allowed to operate at full capacity.

Their next show, the spokesperson said, is scheduled to run from Oct. 19-24.

Trinity Repertory Company’s next show also won’t be able to run until the fall, according to Executive Director Tom Parrish.

“We’re looking and really hoping that Christmas Carol is going to open the season at Trinity Rep,” Parrish said.

The VETS has not only been hosting the state’s weekly coronavirus briefings, the R.I. Philharmonic Orchestra has also been performing there.

General Manager Dan Schwartz said the increased capacity is great news.

“Concerts of people are already sold out at the 125, so this gives them an opportunity to open up more seats and get back to kind of having an in-person audience,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz said The VETS’ first touring show is scheduled for Aug. 29.

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