Easton’s Avalon Theatre creating massive outdoor venue
EASTON, Md. – An Eastern Shore theatre announced it’s creating a huge outdoor venue, in order to safely bring live entertainment back to the area.
The historic Avalon Theatre has been a staple in the Easton community for almost a century but the traditional indoor crowded spaces that are home to live entertainment aren’t exactly the safest during a pandemic. Al Bond, the President and CEO of the Avalon Foundation, says, “How do we come together as a community, when the rules say you shouldn’t?”
“The arts are a joyful experience and our mission of bringing people together is important but we’re not going to do it if we can’t kind of ensure that we can provide a certain level of safety,” says Jessica Bellis, the Chief Operating & Finance Officer for the Avalon Foundation.
But this problem was no match for the Avalon Foundation. “When there’s an emergency, what you do is make things happen quickly,” says Bond. “It is twenty times safer to be outside than inside. Twenty times. That was the number one thing. Whatever we do, if we’re going to have any kind of density, it’s going to be outside.”
In true artist fashion they began to create, dreaming up an outdoor space that would provide a safe venue for the arts. “Music venues hate obstructed views and tents have poles. We found one that doesn’t,” says Bond.
Thanks to a generous donation from the Stoltz Family, the Avalon Foundation’s Stoltz Pavilion will stand in the parking lot behind the Talbot Town Center by November. “Our four person pods are going to have personal fire pits in there for people to be able to snuggle up with people who are in their households and watch live entertainment ,” says Bellis. Also important, the tent features compound curves which are ideal for acoustics.
They’re also hoping other local organizations will be able to use the massive 60 foot by 111 foot tent because, as they acknowledge, they’re an anchor in downtown Easton. “Half of the people that attend a show here are coming from outside of the 216 zip code area. So they’re staying at the Tidewater across the street or one of the other hotels in the town of Easton. They are eating out at all the downtown restaurants,” says Bond.
The theatre attracts countless visitors to the area every year and they want the entire community to come out stronger, after all of this is said and done. “We want to be there on the back end but we want everyone else to be there on the back end our mission is about building a stronger community and if you don’t have small businesses, you don’t have a community,” says Bond.
Theatre officials say they’ve already booked quite a few acts for the new outdoor pavilion which will still abide by health guidelines. “Even though it’s an outdoor venue, we are still going to require mask wearing once we’ve passed beyond our threshold. We’re going to have hand sanitizer stations and practice all the CDC guidelines,” says Bellis.
When COVID eventually subsides, officials say the true capacity of this venue is unlike any other. “The capacity of the tent would look to be about twice the size of the Avalon Theatre if we’re able to program it in post COVID times and that certainly represents a huge opportunity for Easton and the Avalon Foundation,” says Bellis.
As for the future of the arts, Bellis believes we might be on the cusp of another historic moment in the industry. “The artists have not stopped creating. The music is in them. The art is in them. The words are in them. I think that when we’re able to really engage in those arts again together, it’s going to be another Renaissance.”
Officials say this venue would not have been possible without donations. If you’d like to learn more about how to support the Avalon Theatre, visit AvalonFoundation.org.