In 2020, as arts venues around the world darkened their lights, there were a number of national shows across the country that scheduled tours. For those looking for a safe, distanced, disinfected place to perform, there was only one location for the tour – Lincoln, Nebraska.
The Lied Center for Performing Arts is known by artists throughout the United States as a safe performing environment that has implemented some of the most innovative COVID-19 precautions. Because of this, these artists are excited and want to work with the Lied Center to get on stage and do the job they are so passionate about.
There’s more. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the Lied Center’s Re/Cover LNK story.
When the World Said, “Take Five”
In the times before COVID, we can remember sitting next to complete strangers, watching talented artists give their all for love of the craft. At the climax of the performance— as the solo violinist deftly maneuvers a particularly tricky run, or the soprano nails the high note, or the dancers leave gravity behind and begin to float on waves of music— you might hear your neighbor— a precocious six-year-old, perhaps, whose attention has wavered considerably through the first act— whisper “wow” in hushed, reverent tones, and you can’t help but agree with that sentiment. That moment of finding common ground and understanding with another person is part of what makes art deeply important. Looking back, we didn’t know those moments would be fleeting.
And then it happened. The world stopped moving, the curtain came down, we stopped everything, and went home.
Not the Lied Center. The team in the offices on 12th Street already knew the vital importance of the arts to our lives, more than ever in days of uncertainty. The gears were already turning— how could they keep the music playing, while keeping performers and patrons alike safe?
Lights, Camera, Zoom!
Two weeks after the pandemic was announced and the world went home, the Lied Center was hosting one of the first live performance webcasts in the country.
Both Lauren Durban and Matthew Boring explained how incredible it was to be able to spread good news at that point. They thought of themselves as ticket holders, and wanted to provide artistic relief to the many isolated and connection-starved theatergoers across the country.
The positive feedback for this first webcast was through the roof and full of rave reviews. And even though many first-time webcast users struggled, and the five-camera system was finished getting set up in the hours before the event – it was immensely successful.
After this webcast, the Lied Center team knew they had to continue to push for more programming, and so they took it to the next level – the streets!
Music on the Move was the Lied Center’s next big idea to create programming for the community. Throughout the months of June and July they rented out a Pedicab and built a mobile stage to bring shows to the streets of Lincoln. This allowed for them to be in the same physical space much like a live performance, making people want to dance and sing along in their lawns.
With their mobile show, they also wanted to make sure that the seniors in our community felt included and special during a time when they were completely isolated from the theatre. One afternoon in June, the Williamsburg Retirement Community received a show like nothing they had ever seen before, thanks to the Lied Center’s efforts.
The Show Must Go On
The Lied Center is proud to be a part of the Lincoln Community because of everyone’s efforts to handle COVID safely. Artists that are in contact with the Lied mentioned that they felt safe coming to Lincoln because the community was taking it seriously.
They have pledged an unwavering focus on health and safety, as well as comprehensive ticket flexibility:
- All shows at the Lied will feature socially-distanced seating until further notice. Most seats will be available in pairs, with a distance of six feet between each group of seats.
- There will be increased cleaning and disinfecting that meets or exceeds university and health department guidance.
- The Lied has joined with UNL in requiring face coverings to be worn while inside any campus building, including the theater.
- They have upgraded air filters throughout the Lied and increased fresh air intake in the building. The result is even safer, cleaner air.
- In an effort to encourage patrons who are feeling ill or have been exposed to someone who is ill to stay home, the Lied is making all tickets fully refundable, right up until show time.
- If a show is postponed or canceled, patrons will be offered the choice of keeping the value of their tickets as on-account credit to be used for another show or receiving a full refund.
- Concessions are not currently available, but patrons are welcome to bring a water bottle (no glass).
Matthew Boring and Lauren Durban mentioned that for their first show in-person, they only had to give out two masks total, and there were no problems. People wanted to support the Lied Center’s efforts and they were excited to be back in the theatre.
They hosted local community dance recitals and offered live streaming for family and friends to watch from the comfort of their home. They received updates of grandparents being so excited because they hadn’t seen their grandchild in months, and there she was – performing right in front of them, and they had front row seats.
Spring into the Lied Center
Due to their innovative safety precautions implemented for the staff, audience, and performers the Lied Center is proud to announce that there will be live and in-person shows this spring. Artists are excited to come to Lincoln with the spirit of flexibility, and the Lied Center is ready to support these artists in their debut back to live performances.
The producers of the touring show Newsical told the Lied Center that they were excited to hear of Lincoln’s strong mask mandate.
But the live webcast performances are not stopping here, the Lied is offering a whole new ticket package just for live webcast performances – over one hundred people have signed up to watch all webcast performances. Our world is not the same as it was a year ago, and the Lied Center understands that. This is why they are expanding access to shows beyond COVID.
We Will Come Back Home
The mission of the Lied Center is to inspire, educate, and entertain, and in the past year, they have done all of that and more. If you had asked the Lied team in February 2020 if they thought they would become experts at implementing health measures and impromptu webcast setups by the end of the year, they likely wouldn’t have believed it. but they do it for our community so that we can come back home to the theatre.
Because of that, the Lied Center has scheduled 50 shows in the next four months.
For the Lied Center, our community means everything to them and what they do. Throughout the last year, they have greatly expanded their outreach and education to various organizations such as the Black Leaders Movement, LNK TV, and a festival documentary series.
If you are interested in learning or supporting the Lied Center you can:
- Purchase virtual season tickets
- Purchase in-person tickets this spring
- Become a Friends of the Lied donor
- Donate to Arts to Nebraska
To learn more about how you can support the Lied, visit their website at liedcenter.org.
We would like to thank the Lied Center for sharing their Re/Cover LNK story and their dedication to making sure that we can come back home to the theatre. Read more Re/Cover LNK stories here.