Opinion

Riverwalk Theatre contemplates the next 60 years post-pandemic

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(Jeff Magnuson is the president of Riverwalk Theatre.)

Riverwalk Theatre and the Costume Shop have been a part of the Lansing community in some form for over 60 years as Riverwalk Theatre, the Okemos Barn and Community Circle Players. The past two years have been unlike any others in our history.

We have been incredibly fortunate to have many dedicated members, supporters, volunteers and community agencies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Our $200,000 per year budget has been pared back significantly to continue to survive. I am pleased to tell you that we are still a vibrant, creative organization and we are ready for the next 60 years.

Our struggles have been like those of other small businesses whose business models were designed to bring people together. Speaking for our actors, directors, technicians and creatives: We’ve missed you. At Riverwalk Theatre, we threw out what we’ve always done and presented plays and play readings online. We offered new outdoor staged readings and experiences. Like our local restaurants, shops, museums and other indoor activities, we need people who feel safe gathering in public places to come together to watch our shows. We started small when we reopened indoors last fall. As we plan for our 2022-2023 season, you’ll see us bring back big, exciting and entertaining theater experiences on both of our stages at Riverwalk Theatre.

Surviving financially has been possible through incredibly generous individual donors, memberships, the Payroll Protection Plan, LEAP, and the Michigan Arts and Culture Council. I cannot adequately express my gratitude for the support of these people and organizations.

Please, as you are able, support your local small businesses. Those of us in arts and culture need to see you now more than ever. Go out to see a play, attend a concert, visit a local destination or museum or shop at your locally owned businesses. This community has a wide-ranging variety of engaging experiences, including the performing and visual arts.

Some great resources for ideas and inspiration for activities indoors and out include Downtown Lansing Inc., the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau, Old Town Commercial Association and City Pulse.

After you’re vaccinated and boosted, come experience how it feels to be with other people in your community again. If you like to paint, sew, build things with wood and screws, work on a computer that can operate lights and sound, or learn other new skills, we would love to welcome you to volunteer with us.

Now, more than ever, we need to find ways to come together.

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