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Performers and venues wait patiently to bring back the music

Music fans are waiting in the wings to return to in-person concerts as reopening continues in Oregon, but venue operators and performers say it may be a bit longer until they make their post-pandemic debut.

Posted: Mar 16, 2021 8:11 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Music fans are waiting in the wings to return to in-person concerts as reopening continues in Oregon, but venue operators and performers say it may be a bit longer until they make their post-pandemic debut.

The Community Center for the Performing Arts closed the curtain on WOW Hall in March 2020 and hasn't had a performance in the year since.

"We've had to cease events, send home some employees," said CCPA board member Chico Schwall. "It changes all the numbers, and it changes the bottom lines."

The bulk of WOW Hall's revenue comes from ticket sales. Under the moderate risk category in Lane County, indoor venues can reopen at 50 percent capacity. According to Schwall, the restrictions mean venues need to find a balance between operating costs and ticket sales.

"It's all a calculation. How much capacity do we need to pay the bills? We'll work it out same way everybody else is working it out," he said.

Schwall hopes WOW Hall can bring in smaller groups for music lessons and smaller gatherings before full concerts while following pandemic precautions.

Facing a budget hole early in the pandemic, CCPA's donating members filled in the gap with an outpouring of generosity.

"I was one of the many people who answered the call to become a member. Never been a member before. I thought, wow, this is a hard economic time," said CCPA board member Nancy Forrest.

Performers are also facing challenges. Eugene four-piece alt-rock band Fortune's Folly hasn't performed for a full year.

"We are all now focused on our other jobs, but there is kind of that hole in our creative spirit," said frontwoman Calysta Cheyenne. 

The band is using the time to fundraise and record a new album. They are considering live streaming concerts, but Cheyenne said that live streams she's done before just aren't the same. 

"But after the show is done, I felt like, 'Wow, I really thought this would feel like performing again, but performing to cameras is just not at all comparable to performing for a live audience," she said. 

Cheyenne is looking forward to the day that Fortune's Folly can return to the stage. They have booked performances in the fall, if pandemic conditions allow.

"We're just going to hang on a little longer until full anarchy happens and we're just making music and seeing each other and playing anyways," she said.

WOW Hall hopes that concerts can continue in the fall if possible. In the meantime, they hope to refocus on their mission.

"Focusing back on our original mission, which is to be a community center for the performing arts as well as a gathering place. We just want to dream big and wide and diverse."

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