A look at the Vilar’s future
After 25 years of success, the question becomes: What does the future hold for the Vilar Performing Arts Center?
While executive director Owen Hutchinson admits you never really know what the future is going to hold, “we’re preparing ourselves for anything,” he said.
That includes greater artistic presentations, with more significant artists, more shows and special ticket access for locals (including the STARS programs, which have been offered free to local youth since 2002).
“As the venue enters its next 25 years, it will continue to be one of the top performing arts centers in the American West, and a center for arts and culture for all who live in or visit our valley,” according to a VPAC press release.
Building on two and a half decades of big names, including Tedeschi Trucks, Yo-Yo Ma, Jay Leno, Robin Williams, John Legend, Don Felder, Peter Frampton, BB King, Ringo Star, Styx, Sheryl Crow and many more, VPAC has already announced a few hefty shows coming this summer, like Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and David Sedaris. And, it has much more in store to let people know about in upcoming months.
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“We’re looking to slightly grow our summer season,” Hutchinson said, explaining that last summer, they extended the season in September, resulting in two sold-out shows and this year, they’ll expand into September and possibly early October, as well as add early June shows. “The bookends keep growing annually.”
Hutchinson pointed out that VPAC will continue to deliver on every facet of its mission, including: 1) education and community engagement through free or reduced-price tickets for essential workers (including first responders and teachers), 2) enhanced performances like the most recent Norah Jones and Styx concerts and 3) maintaining the high quality of the world-class facility.
“We’re investing in the Vilar center to maintain the state-of-the-art facility it was meant to be,” Hutchinson said, explaining how they invested in the new sound system, which allowed the likes of Styx to perform. “It’s a very dynamic sound. There’s clarity at every frequency and every end of the spectrum. The breadth of the sound is exceptional. We want to hear artists at their fullest, and that system allows us to do that. Even soloists, duos and small quartets sound like a significant production. It feels like you’re sitting in someone’s very large living room, but it sounds like a major theater in a major metropolitan theater.”
VPAC also installed a new HVAC system and is adding acoustic banners to absorb sound to allow major Broadway and rock shows to sound great in the venue.
Though VPAC will close for about six weeks this fall to complete upgraded acoustic banners, it will continue its eight-week Underground Sound Series, aimed at bringing locals out to hear up-and-coming artists at very affordable prices.
“It’s personally one of my favorite series we hold at the Vilar because we’re seeing artists early in their careers and want to share their emotion and passion, which comes through so strongly,” Hutchinson said. “It’s an exploration of contemporary music across the genres.”
This fall also calls for a new projector, so VPAC can showcase more documentaries and ski films.
And, the facility will get major remodels to dressing and green room areas to accommodate artists even better.
“It’s constantly evolving,” Hutchinson said, adding that they’re always considering how they can elevate experiences, enhance performances and accomplish their mission. “We’ll continue to make major investments because it’s intended to serve our community at a high level, and we need to maintain that. … We can’t set a course for the next 25 years, but we can stay open-minded about what creative outlets are out there, including community nonprofits and corporate partners.”
“It’s truly amazing what was accomplished in the creation of this spectacular venue,” said Alexia Jurschak, current chair of the VPAC committee, “and we keep the venue’s history in mind as we plan for a future that we hope is just as wonderful and inspiring as its past.”