Opinion | Iowa City can once again be a ‘city of the arts’

As theatre productions are returning to in-person, Iowa City can reclaim its title of being a city of the arts.

Luke Krchak, Opinions Columnist

With theatre productions coming back to live venues, Iowa City can reassert itself as a city of the arts.

It has been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic shut things down completely. As more things are returning to in-person, one can assume the arts will return, as well.

For the past year, many events have been held virtually, including plays and musicals. While this provides people with access to the events and minimizes exposure to COVID-19, it also limits the impact of the events.

The pandemic is on the tail end, being closer and closer to being over. While I do not condone nor agree with people acting like it’s pre-pandemic, it is time for people to safely return to seeing plays in person.

Local theatre organization, Riverside Theatre, started airing free in person plays for their Riverside Shakespeare Festival. Their most recent play, “The Winter’s Tale,” was held July 15-25. The event was hosted at the Riverside Festival Stage in City Park, an iconic homage to the playwright William Shakespeare.

Producing artistic director Adam Knight said performances of “The Winter’s Tale” were emotional and joyous at times, stating how much of an impact it had on both the performers and the audience.

One major lesson Knight said he and other staff at the Riverside Theatre learned is to “just be normal.” That lesson comes after the past year not being normal by any means. They had to learn how to produce for a virtual audience, as well as how to be quick on their feet and more reactionary to the new limitations.

Riverside Theatre pushed the dates of their in-person productions as far as they could pending improvements in the COVID-19 pandemic to not put anyone at unnecessary risk or harm.

Giving people free admission to events like “The Winter’s Tale,” gives them every opportunity to rejuvenate the theatre scene in Iowa City. The events are also near downtown Iowa City, leaving out as few people as possible.

Another plus is it is an outdoor event, which minimizes the spread of COVID-19. While Riverside Theatre does not enforce mask requirements, it does encourage attendees to follow mask and other COVID-19 guidelines.

While theatre productions returning to in person is one major step towards revitalizing the art scene in Iowa City, it is a part of a bigger movement.

It is one goal of Riverside Theatre to promote works of art, whether it be plays or concerts. Iowa City has many art programs being presented by the Summer of the Arts.

The Summer of the Arts provides Iowa City with many other festivals, like the Jazz Festival. Similar to the Riverside Shakespeare Festival, all of the festivals have free admissions and are held downtown.

On July 30 and July 31, the Soul and Blues Festival will be held at the main stage on the intersection of Iowa Avenue and Dubuque Street.

Summer 2021 has more than made up for the summer that was mostly missed in 2020. Events were held virtually last summer, but it does not compare to seeing the arts live. Take movies for example. People can stream most movies in the comfort of their home, yet it does not feel the same as watching the movie on the big screen.

The COVID-19 limitations were necessary to keep people safe, but as the days of summer dwindle, pushing for more events, including plays to be in-person is the right way to go. Iowa City can only provide so many opportunities to enjoy and participate in the arts, so it is up to more people to attend.

While I do understand reservations about seeing a play during a pandemic, people should still try to attend. Performing or attending artistic events is one of the few ways of revitalizing Iowa City’s artistic community. People should think about attending the upcoming play “The Comedy of Errors at the Riverside Festival stage.

Over the past year, Iowa City held onto its title of being a city of the arts the best it could. But now, it’s time to bring it back home.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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