After a period of pandemic-fueled dormancy, the performing arts center in Barstow plans to welcome the public back with a bang this month.
The Barstow Community College Performing Arts Center is hosting “In the Arts! Healing Our Community Through Sight & Sound” from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 30, according to a BCC press release. The free event will offer “a family-friendly evening of music, dance, visual art, comedy, and a live concert,” plus food and drink, BCC said.
It will also kick off a longer-term plan of the college. BCC hopes to convert its performing arts center from “a glowing symbol of potential” to a substantial driver of creativity, economic activity and quality of life in Barstow and the broader High Desert.
“Growing and supporting our future will not only require the X’s and O’s of science, technology, engineering, and math,” BCC Superintendent-President Eva Bagg said in a statement. “It will also take creativity.”
Comedian Gilbert Esquivel will host the Sept. 30 event. The headliner performance will come from Las Cafeteras, which BCC’s release describes as a “genre-defying group from East L.A.” popular for its “electric live performances and positive message which consistently wows audiences from the Hollywood Bowl to New Zealand.”
The event is open to all, but due to capacity restrictions related to COVID-19, those planning to attend must book a ticket at bccpac.ludus.com. The first 100 people to register get a free gift, the college said.
A COVID-19 vaccination will not be required to attend the event, but “masks, an online self-health check-in, and pod seating are mandatory for all in attendance,” including “staff, volunteers, attendees, and performers,” the college said. Hand-sanitizing stations, temperature monitoring and extra masks will also be issued as needed.
Free vaccinations and testing are being offered on-site during the event courtesy of Rite Aid Pharmacy.
The event is a product of BCC’s new partnership with nonprofit Arts Connection, also known as The Arts Council of San Bernardino County. Arts Connection began working in 2010 “to address the needs of artists and art organizations and the means to support the arts and culture,” according to its website.
In tandem with this new partnership, BCC has brought on T. Faye Griffin, a “creative” with Los Angeles-based Moonstone Enterprises, according to her LinkedIn, as a performing arts consultant.
Griffin is producing the Sept. 30 event in tandem with the performing arts center’s manager, John “Ed” Will, according to the press release.
Griffin describes herself as “a native Angeleno who currently resides in Apple Valley,” but said she is working with Bagg on “a new initiative with the goal of maximizing use of the venue to boost enrollment, increase community engagement, and spark economic recovery.”
“Unfortunately, like many things in the city, the ‘PAC’ suffers from a lack of community involvement,” she said in an email.
The reopening event on Sept. 30 marks the beginning of what Griffin dubbed “Project ImPACt.” She described the vision of this project as “huge.”
BCC is developing a new “theatre arts degree for transfer” according to the release. It is also exploring the potential for its own associate degree in theatre arts, and certificate programs in the field of performing arts and entertainment.
With that, the plan likely includes more community-wide affairs in the months ahead.
“The Performing Arts Center at Barstow is a stunning complex and truly a treasure chest hidden in plain sight,” Griffin said.
Charlie McGee covers the city of Barstow and its surrounding communities for the Daily Press. He is also a Report for America corps member with the GroundTruth Project, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of journalists in the U.S. and around the world. McGee may be reached at 760-955-5341 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @bycharliemcgee.