Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Arts Leaders Tell of Cautious Plans to Reengage Community
Sun Valley Museum of Art will hold several in-person events at its Wine Auction fundraiser in late July, including a progressive wine tasting along the Big Wood River, its popular vintner dinners and a picnic, live auction and concert featuring Sammy Miller and The Congregation at Trail Creek Cabin.
Friday, May 21, 2021


Sawtooth Botanical Garden Director Jen Smith hopes to pull off an array of events this summer that couldn’t be scheduled last summer because of the pandemic.

But it’ll likely mean jumping through an ever-changing array of hoops with the mandates and recommendations concerning COVID-19 protocols changing faster than the spring weather in Sun Valley.

“We as a garden follow Blaine County rules. Boulder Mountain Clayworks, of which I’m a part, follow Ketchum rules. And the garden tour on July 24 is in Hailey so we’ll be following that city’s rules for that,” Smith told colleagues she told colleagues at a Community Arts meeting Wednesday afternoon.

The arts community was among those hardest hit by the pandemic as theaters went dark, choirs were forced to stop singing and outdoor summer concerts were cancelled because of limitations on crowds.

This week members of Sun Valley’s arts community met together for the first time since the pandemic started—over Zoom—to discuss concerns and offer a sneak peek at what they have planned.

An immediate concern was getting arts education back in Blaine County Schools.

Not only have performing arts organizations not been able to take arts workshops and performers into the schools but many of the arts teachers had to stop teaching art to teach math or science this year, noted Hilarie Neely, director of Footlite Dance Centre.

Neely suggested creating a committee to discuss the importance of arts in the schools with the Blaine County School District’s new superintendent and new principals next fall.

“That’s our next generation of audiences and I strongly feel it’s important,” she said.

Bellevue Mayor Ned Burns told attendees that the Bellevue Council will consider its mask requirement Monday night but that he suspected Mahoney’s Bar & Grill will have its annual summer concert series and that the Bellevue Artists Alliance will have a few events.

“Barring a spike in positive caseloads, we will be back to business as usual as much as everyone feels comfortable. I’d like to have everyone to get vaccinated but we can’t mandate it,” he added.

Hailey City Administrator Heather Dawson said many of the Hailey businesses have kept mask mandates indoors, even though the city just lifted its health order stipulating that people mask indoors. Dawson said the city’s advisory order strongly encourages people to wear mask if not vaccinated and it has a four-page advisory laying out how to keep people safe in businesses and at events.

“Many businesses are still trying to protect customers in order to have customers,” she added.

  • THE SUN VALLEY MUSEUM OF ART has already expanded attendance at some of its classes because of recent changes in COVID protocol, said Artistic Director Kristin Poole. “We have not changed restrictions yet regarding masks—we need to have that conversation with staff,” she added.
  • THE ARGYROS is following Idaho Rebound protocols, erring on the side of extreme conservatism, said Mike Hoover. Indoor concerts, for instance, are currently limited to 50 people on the main floor with 25 people upstairs and 10 staff or performers. People must wear masks to preassigned pods; once seated, they can take masks off.

    The theater also just installed an ionization system that neutralizes airborne pathogens to provide a cleaner environment in the theater.

    “We’re shopping around a couple other ideas but we want feedback from our Board of Directors,” he added.

  • THE COMMUNITY LIBRARY has been following the guidance of the Centers Disease Control throughout the pandemic so, now, people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks, said Executive Director Jenny Emery Davidson. Davidson noted that it’s a little scary to take that step, not knowing if the unvaccinated will adhere to the honor system and continue to mask up.

    “But we don’t want to undercut the CDC,” she said.

    The library does not currently plan to hold indoor programming this summer but will instead hold  children’s story hours and adult lectures outside. The library hopes to be able to close 4th Street for a few of its events, as it did last year in order to enable physical distancing. If it cannot do that, crowd attendance will be affected.

  • ST. THOMAS PLAYHOUSE will see a mix of young people who have been vaccinated and those not yet old enough to get a vaccine, noted Sara Gorby.

    “So, I’m exploring what it looks like to be fully masked or partially masked,” she said. “For myself, modeling for younger children is something I’m interested in as we go from this abrupt not very much to everything.”

  • THE WOOD RIVER ORCHESTRA surveyed musicians about getting together, and musicians are all over the ballpark about whether they’re ready to get together, said Lynne Heidel.

    School officials have given the group permission to resume rehearsing in the high school band room. And, while the orchestra doesn’t usually rehearse in the summer, many are excited to get back together because the orchestra has gone so long without performing.

    The orchestra will not hold a fundraiser this summer because it was too difficult to pull it off given the short notice about regarding COVID restrictions being eased. But string quartets and other small groups are available to play at events at no charge.

  • The SUN VALLEY MUSIC FESTIVAL’S first concert is two months and a week away. “So, we’re quiet for now,” said Executive Director Derek Dean. “We’d only have to revise things later on if we decided something now.”

    Dean said the question he’s asked most often is how many people will be able to sit in the Pavilion this coming season.

    “The answer is: As many as we can. I think the answer will be a lot,” he said. “Whether we will have masks on or not, I don’t know.”

  • THE SPOT is using the $18,000 in donations it was given during the recent Idaho Gives campaign to upgrade its ventilation in accordance with Actors’ Equity Association parameters. When finished, it will be able to produce in-person works in the space and invite live audiences back to The Spot.

    The Spot will also be able to install air conditioning with the donations, said Brett Moellenberg.

    In the meantime, The Spot will stream “The Lifespan of a Fact” May 27-30 and June 3-6. The play, based on a book by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal, examines the tourist-centered culture of Las Vegas and that town’s culture of suicide.

  • The unnamed theater company that will take over where COMPANY OF FOOLS left off will stage outdoors productions this summer and will follow the guidelines of whatever venue it finds itself in, said the new theater company’s Artistic Director Melodie Taylor-Mauldin.

    The Liberty Theater will remain closed for the time being.

  • Ticket sales have been brisk for the SUN VALLEY JAZZ AND MUSIC FESTIVAL, which plans to return in October, said Director Carol Loehr.

    “We waiting to see how things go this summer. Do any of us really know what it’s going to look like in October?” she said. “We may decide to limit sales and, if we have to spread bodies around, we’ll do that.  People really want to come.”

  • FIELD DAZE--outdoor cabaret-style performances spotlighting local talent at the Reinheimer property--will be back this summer, said Cathy Reinheimer.

Claudia McCain, who emceed the meeting, reminded attendees that she’d been laughed at in 1993 when she predicted that one day the Sun Valley area would be known as an arts community.

“They said, ‘No, we’re a recreational community,’ ” recounted the former Chamber president. “It’s made me proud to see the journey towards an arts community.”


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