PORTSMOUTH — The leaders of three arts and entertainment organizations are collaborating on an indoor benefit concert series at The Music Hall and say this is the beginning of a new way of doing business.
“I think COVID was one of those unique factors that brought us closer together,” said Tina Sawtelle, executive director of The Music Hall on Chestnut Street. “Those conversations kind of unfolded naturally.”
The Music Hall had success in securing emergency support through the state’s Live Venue Relief Fund. Outdoor performances took place starting in July, and in August, the theater, with a new HVAC system in place, reopened at reduced capacity.
Sawtelle said there is seating for 250 people in the historic theater, which typically has capacity for 900.
She began working with the leaders of 3S Artspace on Vaughan Street and the Prescott Park Arts Festival to figure out a way to raise money for those organizations that have been hard hit by the economic fallout from the pandemic.
3S Artspace’s visual arts galley is open, but it has been unable to open the performance and rental space because it is down to 12.5% capacity.
Prescott Park Arts Festival canceled its 2020 summer season.
Sawtelle offered The Music Hall as a host site for the concert series to benefit both 3S and Prescott Park. Shows start in May.
Because the three organizations’ business models are so different, Sawtelle said, there is potential for future collaboration. She mentioned the city’s 400th anniversary in 2023 as an opportunity.
“We feel this could be the start of a relationship that lives well beyond COVID,” Sawtelle said.
Courtney Perkins, executive director of the Prescott Park Arts Festival, agrees.
“I think you could do a citywide festival that celebrates all things Portsmouth,” Perkins said. “The sky is the limit, honestly.”
Beth Falconer, executive director of 3S Artspace, said all three of the bands that will be playing at The Music Hall in May previously played at one of the three venues.
She is hoping that the memories of past shows will spark audience members to embrace the future and a time when regional and national tours are heading back to local stages.
The concert series will include shows by:
Zachary Williams, frontman for Americana band The Lone Bellow, on Friday, May 14;
Rachael & Vilray — Rachael Price of Lake Street Dive and guitarist-singer-composer Vilray — on Saturday, May 22; and
Son Little, with some blues, soul and old-school R&B, Friday, June 11.
Each will play two shows, at 6 and 8 p.m.
Tickets, which go on sale Friday, range from $25 to $60.
For more information, visit www.themusichall.org or call the box office at 436-2400.