BLUE BELL, Pa. — It’s been a year of transition for Montgomery County Community College and its Lively Arts and gallery staff, as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and renovation of the Science Center Theater. Despite all that, though, the show must go on.
The Lively Arts Series has announced its 37th season, which includes a lineup of programming that will once again generate thunderous applause. Brent Woods, senior director of cultural affairs, said it will be great to see audience members back supporting fantastic artists and live entertainment again while also following the required COVID-19 safety guidelines.
“I’m looking forward to reconnecting with our audience,” he said. “The COVID-19 pandemic put people in a place of isolation and separated us from one other. I think people are hungry to reconnect and are looking for live social activities that allow us to come together to forget all of the challenges we are facing, even if it is just 90 minutes. Offering these opportunities is a good thing for our constituents and the feedback has been outstanding. Just having people in the venues clapping, or witnessing their excitement virtually will be really exciting.”
Beginning January 2020, the college started renovating the Science Center Theater on the Blue Bell campus, which is scheduled for completion in 2022. Meanwhile, the Lively Arts Series performances will temporarily be relocated to the Normandy Farm Hotel and Convention Center (Grand Ballroom or Silo Ballroom) and the Blue Bell Country Club Grand Ballroom. Live performances will include dinner and drinks and social distancing guidelines will be observed for safety. Audience members also may watch a livestream of the concerts from their homes. Tickets are available for purchase to experience all of our concerts, both in-person and online.
“Some folks are not going to want to come out until they feel safe, due to concerns about COVID-19,” said Woods. “Nothing will ever beat attending a live performance, but we are going to do everything we can to make their livestream experience the same experience as if you were there to see the performers on stage in person.”
Of the performers scheduled to play this season, Woods said he was most excited for four jazz shows. The first begins Sunday, Feb. 14, at 5 p.m. in the Normandy Farm Grand Ballroom for “An Evening with Dee Dee Bridgewater and Bill Charlap.”
“She is a jazz giant whose career has spanned four decades and has earned a Tony Award and three Grammys,” said Woods of Bridgewater.
That’s followed by the up-and-coming Connie Han Trio Sunday, March 28, at 5 p.m. at the Normandy Farm Silo Ballroom. “She’s raw, but her music is still intellectually engaging,” said Woods. “She’s fantastic on the piano.”
Then Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Ladies Sing the Blues, featuring Catherine Russell, Brianna Thomas and Charenee Wade, will perform at the Blue Bell Country Club Grand Ballroom Sunday, April 25, at 5 p.m. Lastly, Philadelphia’s own Joey DeFrancesco Trio will perform at the Blue Bell Country Club Grand Ballroom Sunday, May 16, at 5 p.m.
The Lively Arts Series will spotlight the Richard K. Bennett Distinguished Lectureship for Social Peace and Justice by presenting “Racism in America: Understanding the History of Slavery and Its Impact on American Culture.” Dr. Fran L. Lassiter, MCCC Professor of English, will facilitate the seven-part lecture series focusing on slavery, the how and the why it was constructed, analyze its impact, and show how racism still permeates in our society to this day. Each session will be recorded and available to view online through Saturday, May 15.
The first session begins with Aaron Shatzman, MCCC Dean of Social Sciences, who will lead a virtual discussion via Zoom called “Europeans, Native Americans and Africans: The Origins of Slavery and Race Prejudice in the Americas,” on Wednesday, Jan. 27, from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Theresa Napson-Williams, MCCC History associate professor, will lead the fourth virtual discussion in the series, “Abandoned and Violated: African Americans in the Jim Crow South, 1877-1945,” March 10, from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Zoom.
Following the series, Keima Sheriff, MCCC assistant dean of student programs, and David Kowalski, MCCC associate vice president of institutional effectiveness & strategic innovation, will lead a workshop “Hearing and Healing: Reflection on the Racism in America Series,” which addresses the themes discussed throughout the series and how to heal the wounds of racism.
“We have a lot going on this year,” said Woods. “A lot of relevant events connecting to people’s lives especially in 2020 that will be pertinent.”
For more information about any of the upcoming performances or discussions in the Lively Arts Series, visit mc3.edu/tickets.
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