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Style Magazine

Spotlight On Harris Center for the Arts in Folsom

Pre-pandemic, Folsom’s award-winning visual and performing arts complex, the Harris Center for the Arts (HCA), was hosting over 400 public events every year, attracting over 150,000 attendees annually, and bringing in millions of dollars to the region. Despite their lights being dimmed for the unforeseeable future, one thing remains certain in this uncertain time: The show will, eventually, go on. We caught up with Los Rios Community College District’s Chancellor Dr. Brian King and Folsom Lake College President Dr. Whitney Yamamura about the current status of the HCA and their plans for a safe, and even more successful, return.

Los Rios Community College District’s Chancellor Dr. Brian King


Folsom Lake College President Dr. Whitney Yamamura


Despite having to close your doors—though temporary—and the obvious economic hit, have there been any silver linings behind the coronavirus cloud?
We understand how many people have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic climate, so we would never say there are "silver linings” to such a devastating period for our community, state, and country. Though we were forced to temporarily close due to reasons beyond our control, we are taking the opportunity to reevaluate the Center’s management structure to ensure it’s viable for decades to come. To help with this, we’ve engaged a leading consultant specializing in performing arts centers to help us identify opportunities for efficiency and improved service, while still maintaining the partnerships that have made the HCA so successful.

When do you plan to reopen?  
With so many variables at play, most importantly public health conditions, there is no firm timetable for reopening at this point. We are committed, however, to reopening as soon as we can do so safely and sustainably. At the time of the temporary closure in June, we said that we expected the closure to last at least a year. Unfortunately, there have not been any developments to indicate that timeline could be shortened; however, we’re constantly assessing public health conditions and using the closure as an opportunity to review the Center’s management structure moving forward.

A performance at the Harris Center


What do you predict the next year will look like for the performing arts sector?  
With so many questions still unanswered about the virus, a possible vaccine, and the impacts of a prolonged closure on the performing arts community, it’s hard to know what the future will look like. The Metropolitan Opera in New York, the nation’s largest performing arts organization, announced in late September that they planned to remain closed for another year. Even with so many unknowns, we remain steadfast in our commitment to reopen as soon as we can do so safely and sustainably. The HCA is an institution in our community, and we look forward to the day when it can once again welcome patrons and world-class performers.

What might the guest experience look like?  
Delivering a personalized patron experience and welcoming atmosphere for all performers and guests have been hallmarks of the HCA’s success since its opening. Whenever we’re able to reopen the Center, protecting those qualities will be among our highest priorities. The Center’s smaller size and intimate settings play an important role in those dynamics but also make reopening with social distancing a much more difficult and complicated endeavor.

Photo by Bob Hakins.


How do you think the pandemic will change the work of performing arts presenters?  
This global pandemic has changed everything, and there’s no reason to believe that the performing arts will be spared. The changes have been particularly dramatic for industries that rely on indoor audiences like the theatre and cinema. We expect that it will take some time for everyone to be comfortable attending indoor events with large crowds, but in time, performing arts presenters and venues will rebound and thrive. While we don’t know what the future will look like yet, we do know that our community has a rich and long history of supporting the arts. When the time comes, we’re confident that the HCA will be well-positioned to continue our tradition of success.

How can readers help support the Harris Center?
Before the pandemic, we were planning a 10th anniversary fundraising campaign that was temporarily put on hold. Even in normal times, philanthropic support is so critical to arts organizations to help close the gap, as ticket sales alone do not support operations. That need is even greater in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. We are grateful to our wonderful donors who have continued to give while we are hibernating to help have resources at the ready to allow us to reopen as quickly as possible. We invite the community to join us in helping to sustain engaging arts programming, education, and access in our region with a tax-deductible gift at Every gift, no matter the size, makes a difference! When we reopen, we also encourage our community to become HCA members and enjoy great performances, as well as special, members-only benefits.

Photo by Bob Hakins.


Is there anything you'd like to add?  
We cannot thank our patrons, members, donors, supporters, and volunteers enough for their patience. Nobody could have predicted or planned for these circumstances, but with the help of our devoted community partners, the Harris Center for the Arts will bounce back better than ever!

by Megan Wiskus 
Header photo by David J Grenier
Other photos by BG Phillips Photography.