FLORENCE, Ala. (WAFF) - The past year has been difficult on businesses, the arts, and tourist attractions. As positive covid-19 cases began to increase, the Shoals Community Theater made the decision to close last March. One year later, the center for the arts is looking to brighter days ahead.
Closing the Shoals Theater last March wasn’t an easy decision. It was necessary though for the health and safety of patrons. Following Governor Ivey’s amended safer-at-home order, the theater was allowed to reopen - but with social distancing guidelines. That meant limited tickets, shows and seating. General Manager Steve Price says the theater lost not only large crowds and popular acts - but revenue too.
“Several hundred thousand dollars. How its impacted us is just a cultural train wreck. It’s been devastating to us,’ said General Manager Steve Price.
A year later, Price says he’s putting the past behind to focus on the future. April 9th - the mask mandate expires in Alabama. Price hopes foot traffic picks up after that day but says he wants to go back to normal slowly and safely.
“It’s going to be an ease in process. We have to be careful, we have to be thoughtful of our patrons coming back. It’s got to be something to make them feel comfortable,” said Price.
Price says cleaning will remain a top priority. There are clear shields up at the concession stand. Hands free sanitizer is available throughout the theater along with gloves, masks, and temperature checks.
“If they say the customer doesn’t have to wear masks that will be fine but our volunteers will and all of our employees,” said Price.
And when it comes to filling these seats at full capacity, Price says he’s hopeful, but if social distancing guidelines are still needed the theater will comply. For now, he’s looking forward to the next big act - events already scheduled in the coming months. A different look - and feeling - from this time last year.
“We’ve looked so forward to this people are starving for entertainment, for music, theater, just shows. There’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Price.
Price says he’s waiting to see what, if any, restrictions will affect social distancing when the mask ordinance is lifted. He says if the Governor continues with social distancing guidelines, the theater will comply.