The last year has been a challenge for live entertainment venues and entertainers alike, including many local venues such as The State Theatre.
“The pandemic has left us unable to host large-scale, live events, which is the cornerstone of our programming,” State Theatre general manager Kerry Cavanaugh says. “We’ve had to trim staff and other expenses in order to get through these lean times.”
The State Theatre has not hosted a live performance since March 2020 and has been forced to pivot and generate income through hosting classes and small group private screening rentals. Now, the theater turns its focus to the upcoming “We’re All In This Together: Ten Years of Concerts with a Cause” event, which will be held virtually, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, with the proceeds helping offset the theater’s financial losses.
The concert, live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube, will include performances from local artists, including Pure Cane Sugar, Eric Ian Farmer, Tommy Wareham, Ted McCloskey & the HiFi’s, Hannah Bingman, LEMONT, Andy Tolins & Richard Sleigh, Kevin Briggs & Jeremy Frank and mISS mELANIE.
“All performers will be taped prior to the event at different locations and at the State Theatre,” explains Roy Love, one of the event’s co-founders. “The only person at the event live will be our emcee [extraordinaire], Jeff Brown, who has emceed seven of the past nine years.”
Event co-founder and performer Jason McIntyre adds, “Those tuning in will get a glimpse into the themes and memories of the last nine years of shows that we have produced, with song selections from years-past themes of Neil Young, Tom Petty, Woman of Rock, Motown, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Van Morrison and The Grateful Dead.”
While the State Theatre’s Concert with a Cause’s online format is certainly different from years past, the organizers are adamant that the 2021 concert isn’t one to miss and, while online attendance is free, donations will help ensure The State Theatre remains a cornerstone of the State College arts community.
“The State Theatre enhances our community by hosting a variety of local musicians and performance groups, supporting other nonprofits in their fundraising efforts and providing State College with big-city entertainment at a small-town price point,” Cavanaugh says. “Funds raised from this event will offset the past year’s losses and allow us to continue to play a pivotal role in our community and its arts scene.
McIntyre notes that the ability of performers and venues such as The State Theatre to adapt to the needs of the changing times is just a testament to the arts’ resilience.
“Performing musicians across the country have been out of work now for a year and folks have been getting innovative on how to continue being creative and muster some form of living,” he says. “While the format is not ideal to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of our show, it’s yet another testament to the talents, ingenuity and resolve of the music community and the theater. It seems fitting that the local music community is helping roll out a virtual format for the theater that will continue to be used in the months ahead to continue fulfilling the theater’s mission of providing entertainment and education,” he says.
The State Theatre plans to continue expanding live-streamed events in 2021, as well as to pursue more small group rentals, with a phased reopening according to local guidelines and capacity limitations. Cavanaugh is hopeful of a return to live public events in the second half of 2021.
Sponsors for “We’re All In This Together: Ten Years of Concerts with a Cause” the event include Nittany Valley Chiropractic, KCF Technologies, Woods Levin Wealth Management Group, The Steven Bodner Team of Re/Max Centre Realty and O.J. Johnston & Monica Wright.