Performing arts won’t look the same once Kentucky re-opens


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Summer is around the corner and that means all of lexington’s summer events are having to re-think they way they do things because of social distancing guidelines, including Distilled Theatre Company.

“It won’t look like it has in the past, it will look like this, how we’re talking to each other on the screen right now,” Wesley Nelson, the company’s executive director said on zoom.

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For performing arts where touch and closeness is part of the experience, maintaining social distancing guidelines is tough.

At Distilled Theatre Company, previously known as the Kentucky Conservatory Theatre, it found a way for it’s performers to connect while apart.

It started posting “Couch concerts” to its social media.

“Theater is about connection and storytelling and so we wanted to find a way to let people feel that human connection, while they were isolated in their homes, so they didn’t feel alone,” Nelson said.

But the next event, Broadway Under the Stars, or you might remember it as Summerfest, brings thousands out to Woodland Park each summer.

“We’ve had to take a break from just our artist’s brain and say, what’s the safest solution,  and way to move forward for our patrons and our artists,” Nelson said.

For a non-profit theatre company like Distilled, ticket sales and support through sponsorship keeps them open.

While Governor Andy Beshear announced Friday, more than $400,000 from the federal CARES Act, will go to non-profit arts organizations throughout kentucky, Distilled isn’t one of them.

“However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to get other money from the state,” Nelson said.

Nelson says Mayor Linda Gorton’s office has been directly sending grant opportunities to them.

“it’s incredible that with all they’re dealing with, they’re still thinking about us too,” Nelson said.

As they say in the theater world ‘the show must go on,’ it will just look a little different this time around.

“That’s one thing that theater has always shown us, is the arts will survive. We will, it will be different. It may be harder, but sometimes that can be fun, so we will survive this and we will come out on the other side, and we can’t wait to see you in person again,” Nelson said.

Nelson says Distilled Theatre Company plans on making an announcement this week about the specific changes it’s making and how the company will be adjusting for the summer.


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Monica Harkins joined the ABC 36 News team in June 2019 as a Multimedia journalist and Anchor/Producer. She’s born and raised in Austin, Texas and headed “North,” as she calls it, to study broadcast journalism and business at the University of Missouri. While at Mizzou she anchored and reported for KOMU 8 News, an NBC affiliate in Columbia, Missouri all four years. During her childhood she played almost every sport, but they always called her “Hollywood” for her love of theatre. In high school, she realized her excitement for theatre and performing was only a small piece of the puzzle. It’s story telling that’s her passion. She’s especially passionate about social media and creative platforms to tell stories. Her most recent experiment is being a FAA certified drone pilot. As a proud Texan she says she’s made of country music, Southern hospitality and Sweet Tea. When she’s not at work you can find her trying new recipes, listening to crime podcasts, reading the latest romance novel or rockin’ out to live music with friends. She says she’s only a tweet or Facebook message away, so say hi and send her the latest on your community. @MonicaHarkinstv or