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Theatres are anxious to reopen but cautious and concerned

KSN Digital Extra

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – States across the nation, filled with anxious people ready to return to their normal lives, are lifting stay at home orders in phases. But how soon will you be able to return to your local theater?

The Crown Uptown Theatre began canceling events in mid-March amid county and state stay at home orders. Education facilities, venues, and other activities and establishments could resume no earlier June 1, determined by the governor based on the overall progress of the state. Crown Uptown owner, J Basham, says the day-to-day since the shelter-in-place has been a waiting game.

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“We don’t do much of anything right now. Yesterday was basically let’s just pay bills with what money we’ve got left,” said Basham. “We’ve gotten ahold of all our events that were scheduled. I’ve got a wedding coming up in June that I may have to move out. I don’t know if we can have 300 people in there. At this point, no, we can’t.”

The Orpheum Theatre of Wichita tells a similar tale of event cancelations and having to push events back to later in the year.

“We had to reschedule a couple sold-out comedy shows. We had a couple of concerts in there, so kind of a little bit of everything,” said Mallory Rine, Marketing Manager at Wichita Orpheum Theatre. “For the most, part people are thrilled that we’re rescheduling. I think there’s a relief there, that they still get the opportunity to come to the show just later on in the year.”

Safety for both venues and the community they serve are at the top of the priority list. All are anxious to get back into business but cautious of what that might mean for the community. 

“This has been a hard time for everybody. It’s tough not being able to open our doors and welcome fans into the theatre,” laments Mallory Rine. “Obviously, we don’t plan to reopen until we are sure that it’s safe to do so for our patrons, our volunteers, our staff, and even touring artists.”

“If I could open tomorrow, I probably wouldn’t open tomorrow. I want to keep the staff safe, the audience safe, and the artists safe, and I think if we were to open too soon, there would be a big spike in coronavirus,” admits Basham. “I’ll just be glad when all this is over with and we can go back to doing business as usual, and people can go out and have a good time.”

To stay vital, The Crown Uptown hosts live streaming events via Facebook every Saturday featuring local and regional acts. Viewers can donate to those bands Venmo or Paypal to support them. 

For those who want to support The Orpheum even though they can’t go to shows, they can join the membership program Friends of the Orpheum, donate online at Wichitaorpheum.com or call 316-263-0884.

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