In recent years (which now feel like days of yore), the approach of the November issue would see Limelight editorial staff throw themselves into assembling the Season Preview Guide, sifting through umpteen emails and press releases to prepare 22 pages of listings that covered the key arts events happening around the country the following year. It took a lot of work but it was a fantastic reference point.
In the good old days, arts companies would start launching their new seasons in August, with a hefty number announcing in October. By November we had a fairly comprehensive plan of what arts lovers could look forward to.
Well, COVID-19 has paid to that. A few weeks ago arts companies weren’t even sure if they’d be in a position to launch a new season given the restrictions. But as transmission rates hit single figures or zero around the country, emails announcing the date of 2021 season launches have started arriving in our inbox. How exciting!
So what can we expect in 2021? Will companies feel the need to play it safe in order to attract audiences back? Or will they decide that it’s time to take more risks? Will artists tackle the COVID era in new work, or it is too soon? There has been a lot of debate recently about the need for more diverse voices on stage – will that start happening now?
It’s likely that companies will begin the year with smaller casts and smaller-scale productions in case social distancing remains, reducing their box office. An emphasis on local artists seems a given while border restrictions remain. Let’s hope that includes writers and composers as well as performers. It’s also likely that the digital platforms, introduced as a way to continue making art while venues were shuttered, will remain in some form or other.
We can’t wait to see what the companies have in store for us in 2021, and will report on the various seasons online as they are unveiled.
Discussion on the grapevine suggests that some companies will announce a full program for the year while others will announce a few events at a time. Whichever way, it will be thrilling to have the arts back on stage. Bring it on!