By Shereen Siewert
The Grand Theater in downtown Wausau will postpone the 2020-21 season and all major events through November, while creating a fund to help facilitate a safe return to live performances.
Shows like Three Dog Night and The TEN Tenors – originally scheduled for fall – include large numbers of performers and crew, in addition to 1,200 audience members, which would make it impossible to maintain social distance, said Director of Marketing and Development Melanie Ruby, in a news release issued Thursday.
The historic theater was forced to close its doors in mid-March, leaving the facility dark for an unprecedented length of time. As a nonprofit organization, The Grand is reliant on ticket and event revenues as well as community support to bring world-class artists to its stage.
The news release stated that the Grand will see more than $1.1 million in lost revenue after nine months of postponed and cancelled events.
The Ghost Light Fund, named after the long-held theatrical tradition of leaving a single light burning whenever a theater is unoccupied, aims to light the way for a safe return to the stage in the near future.
Community support of The Ghost Light Fund will help The Grand:
- Maintain the historic theater and make the enhancements necessary to reopen safely
- Provide engaging “intermission” programming including virtual performances and educational programs for all ages
- Retain staff to prepare for the time when it is safe to fully reopen the facility
- Offset revenue lost from cancelled performances
“For over 90 years, The Grand has stood strong in downtown Wausau and our community has always been incredibly supportive,” said Sean Wright, Executive Director of The Grand Theater. “We know they will help us through this challenging time, ensuring that we emerge stronger and ready to welcome them back to our historic space when it is safe to do so.”
The Grand will soon be announcing alternative arts programming in lieu of large-scale events beyond the theater’s walls, including online programming and smaller performances at The Grand following social distancing and enhanced health protocols later this fall.
“We are looking forward to sharing our plans for programming over the coming months,” Wright said. “While it won’t be a traditional fall ‘season,’ we will continue to live our mission and engage our community through the arts.”
For information about postponed performances, to learn more about The Grand’s Ghost Light Fund or to donate, visit www.grandtheater.org, or call 715-842-0988.