BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — On Friday the state announced that California can soon start allowing indoor gatherings with restrictions, but what does this mean for our local venues?
On a normal night, the Fox Theater could see just over 1,500 people, but due to the pandemic, these seats have remained empty for more than a year now, however, in just a few weeks the Fox could see its first live performance since last February, but of course, things will look a bit different.
“It means we're really starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The fact we can start getting folks in seats again is something we've been looking forward to for a long time.”
Starting April 15, the state will start allowing indoor concerts and theater performances at limited capacity, but here locally, if all goes well Matthew Spindler, with the Fox Theater is hoping to open their doors to concert goers as soon as early May.
“I have more concern for the artists. That they're going to be looking out at an empty building. But some of the conversations I've had with them, they don't care. They love the fact they can start performing again and that seems to be the driving factor.”
According to the California Department of Public Health, all counties in the red tier with venue capacities of 1,500 guests are advised to host no more than 100 people, or 10% capacity, however, if a venue chooses to ask for proof of a COVID negative test or proof of vaccination, that number jumps to 25% capacity, and once a county moves into the orange tier, these restrictions will begin to ease, allowing more people. Spindler says they will follow the state guidelines.
“Creating kind of a general admission type set up where folks are socially distanced and kind of first come first serve as far as where they sit in those sections.”
He also says the look to return to normalcy came earlier than expected.
“The conversations I'm having with agents and promoters, I feel really good about September/October.”
Getting to this point wasn't easy, Spindler says they've been relying on grants and community partnerships this past year.
“The other very supportive thing that's been very surprising has been the marquee-inspired program that has really been a huge help for us.”
Back in 2019, Spindler says around 65,000 people walked through the historic Fox Theater, the following year they expected those numbers to rise about 15 or 20%, but that all changed last March when most of the state shut down. So moving forward Spindler has a lot to look forward to.
“The crowd will be great to have in here being able to hear people cheering and do all that type stuff again I miss, but my biggest thing is going to be to see my staff back.”
There is not a date set in stone yet, but make sure to follow the Fox Theater on social media where they will post their latest updates.