How Coachella Valley Theater Groups Survived the Pandemic.

We all know this has been a good year for business. And, perhaps, it has been even more difficult for nonprofits. Unfortunately, some of the two were forced to shut down for good.

A unique group that remains closed is that of performing arts venues. They operate like a business, although most in Coachella Valley are, in fact, bona fide nonprofits. Many simply manage to survive financially in a “normal” year. It is therefore not surprising that these arts organizations have suffered particularly in the past 15 months.

However, we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

One of the reasons for our resilience is that many local performing arts companies have come together to help each other. Arts organizations that have been friendly ticket rivals and donors understood that they would be “stronger together” in these uncertain times.

In May 2020, a few performing arts representatives met on Zoom. A year of bi-weekly meetings ensued, more and more organizations joined, information was shared, common needs were taken care of, and through it all, an incredible collaboration was born!

We created the Alliance of Desert Theaters, which is now a production cooperative of theater companies and live entertainment organizations in the Coachella Valley and Morongo Basin that network and act to advocate and nurture a vibrant performing arts community.

I had the pleasure of serving as the group moderator last year. At this point, the group has chosen to remain informal and not even appoint a “chair”. It is this community spirit of cooperation that has enabled us to achieve a lot.

What started out as a support group where we discussed things like PPE, fundraising, and streaming options has grown into a lot more. For example, after several months with no sign that the state would allow theaters to reopen, our alliance joined with similar groups across California.

We have started to reach out to our elected officials to advocate with the legislature and governor’s office for standards for safe operating guidelines. In March 2021, we managed to add “live performances” to the Californian plan for a more secure economy.

We believe that our alliance played an important role in establishing these reopening guidelines. And now we’re excited to bring the performing arts back to our local communities.

As our dark scenes begin to reopen, we ask for your support in helping every local arts organization that has worked so valiantly over these many months. It will take real community support in the form of ticket sales, donations and volunteers to bring our stages back to life.

Some local venues will have shows this summer, and most are planning full seasons starting this fall. Many offer summer youth programs in person or other workshops. All are determined to revive the arts that will help our communities recover, reflect and rebuild.

The Alliance of Desert Theaters currently includes representatives from the following performing arts groups: California Desert Chorale, Children’s Playtime Productions, Coachella Valley Repertory, Coachella Valley Symphony, Desert Ensemble Theater, Desert Theaterworks, Dezart Performs, Green Room Theater Company , Nickerson-Rossi Dance, North Star Theater, Palm Canyon Theater, PS Concerts, Palm Springs Dance Project, Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus, Palm Springs International Dance Festival and Theater 29. And we welcome everyone else.

For more information about any of these organizations or the AODT, visit www.aodt.org.

Email David Cohan at [email protected]


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