The Kimmel Center’s curtain set to rise once again this fall

Shafiq Hicks
Amy Boyle Photography

The show must go on.

It’s a very common phrase in the theater world, but in 2020, it’s taken on a whole new meaning.

“To undersell, it was challenging and is challenging. It’s been a game of waiting and then planning and then changing and changing,” says Frances Egler, Senior Director of Programming and Presentations at the Kimmel Cultural Campus.

After the pandemic forced the hand of the notable and local cultural institution, planning for a future was hard to do. With no guidebook on how to survive the almost-unbelievable, artists had to do what they did best to forge through—create.

Many organizations began trying their best to get innovative with the “new normal,” including the Kimmel. However, that didn’t stop the immense loss they felt fiscally, as they rely heavily on the revenue garnered from ticket sales.

“We’ve been trying to deal with the losses in order to stay open. It’s just been trying to keep the Kimmel Center at the forefront of people’s minds when we don’t have live producing,” says Egler.

Provided

Those losses are in the millions, and the effort to produce a plan that would help keep such a devastating loss in revenue at bay was found through a few different avenues, and especially through an aggressive Road to Reopening Relief Fundraising Campaign. The organization has been reaching out to ask the Philly area to help meet their goal. “They’ve been very generous,” explains Egler when mentioning Philadelphians who have donated.

But, what people may not think of is just how fiscally impactful the Kimmel is on businesses around it as well.

“For every ticket bought, there’s money spent on everything from public transit, to parking, to dinners, to babysitting, to people going out. It’s a huge economic engine for the region,” says Egler. “Then we have the event-based staff. It helps create that activity within the Avenue of the Arts and the surrounding areas. To be back and active really keeps the neighborhood and certainly the businesses around us more viable. We miss them and I’m sure they miss us, so I’m looking forward to whenever that new normal is to be back to being an economic driver for the city.”

To be exact: The release states that a 2019 study by Econsult Solutions, Inc. found each dollar spent on a ticket generates $12 in economic activity for area businesses such as restaurants, retailers, and hoteliers. Building a plan to safely reopen the Kimmel would help the region’s economy by restoring 2,380 jobs, and $5.3-million in monthly household income.

Of course, money is immensely important for the economic survival of the Philly arts scene, but there are also some incredible shows slated for this season’s bill, which will kick off in October.

The full lineup includes ‘Hamilton’ (Oct. 20 – Nov. 28, 2021); ‘Rain – A Tribute to The Beatles’ (Oct. 29 – 31, 2021,); ‘Anastasia’ (Nov. 23 – 28, 2021); ‘Stomp’ (Dec. 28, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022); ‘Pretty Woman: The Musical’ (Jan. 4 – 16, 2022, ); ‘Hadestown’ (Feb. 9 – 20, 2022); ‘Beautiful – The Carole King Musical’ (Feb. 22 –27, 2022); ‘Rent: 25 the Anniversary Farewell Tour’ (March 4 – 6, 2022); ‘Oklahoma!’ (March 8 – 20, 2022); ‘Waitress’ (March 29 – April 3, 2022); ‘Hairspray ‘(May 16 – 22, 2022); ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ (July 12 – 24, 2022); and ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ (Aug. 16 – 28, 2022).

‘Hamilton’ is an obvious hard hitter for the opener, and overall, the 21-22 bill of shows are a mixture of new productions and also ones that didn’t make their Philly debut last year. On top of ‘Hamilton,’ ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ is notably penned by a local playwright, while ‘Hadestown,’ a recent Tony winner, is a show about “love, lying and perseverance” according to Egler. Another notable production comes from Academy Award winning screenwriter and playwright Aaron Sorkin for the adaptation of Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird.’

“Bringing the best of Broadway back to Philadelphia is obviously a huge priority, but our first priority is our audience’s comfort and safety,” continues Egler.

The Kimmel is following along with the economics of Broadway, which means they won’t open until they can at 100% capacity. To transition this smoothly once October comes, the Kimmel partnered with 35 top performing arts venues across the nation for an in-depth study conducted by renowned industry researchers WolfBrown and AMS Analytics that measures five key areas around a return to live events. According to the release, the data made available by this collaboration has allowed the Kimmel Cultural Campus to better understand the critical questions and concerns audiences have both universally and regionally as they consider the return to live events.

“Pretty Woman” is part of the Kimmel’s upcoming season. Morris Mac Matzen

They are also offering new packages and ways to purchase tickets with full information available on their website.

“We love our subscribers and we are excited to welcome them back,” says Egler. “Sitting in an audience…There’s really nothing like it. We’re an analog industry in a digital world and as much as we use that digital world, there’s that sort of very specific live connection that can’t be duplicated. Everything is going to have their challenges to get back there, but that’s what we’re trying to get back too. Everyone’s been doing what they can to keep that going, but trying to get that sort of feeling of what a live show is what I think everyone wants to get back.”

For more information on the Kimmel Center, visit kimmelcenter.org

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