Vilar Center at Beaver Creek welcomes back live audience Thursday

Vilar Center staff believe it is the first musical venue in the state to welcome back live audiences, albeit 50 people or less

Rocky Mountain Grateful Dead Revue performed Thursday night at the Vilar Performing Arts Center. The performance featured a live audience of less than 50 people.
Matt Phillips | Vilar Performing Arts Center

On Thursday night, an audience of less than 50 people will enjoy live music at the Vilar Performing Arts Center for the first time since mid-March. After looking around the state, organizers believe this is the first live audience at a musical venue in the state since the closures associated with COVID-19 started in mid-March.

“I think we’re the first in the state, not just the county, for a live event with an audience,” said Duncan Horner, executive director of the Vilar Center. “In terms of public health orders, Eagle County is further along than other counties.”

On Thursday, Eagle County submitted its variance request to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to allow for gatherings of up to 250, among other eased restrictions.

“It’s going to be different. I think it’s going to feel very special,” Horner said of Thursday night’s performance by Rocky Mountain Grateful Dead Revue, part of the Vilar Center’s weekly Ghostlight Series — also streamed online. “It’s going to be fun to see people’s reactions.”

The Vilar Center seats about 530 people, but Thursday’s audience will be limited to 50. The Vilar Center has invited local first responders as well as other community members close to the venue. The show is free to those attending.

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Horner said the Vilar Center staff has been working closely with the changing health restrictions. Attendees Thursday night will have temperatures checked, be spaced out and encouraged to wear face coverings when entering and leaving, among other protocols.

“It’s certainly going to feel kind of special,” Horner said, “one of those experience that if you are there, you’ll be talking about it for a while.”

The Vilar Center is known for bringing in big-name acts throughout the year, but with limits on musicians touring these days, the venue turned to local musicians for its Ghostlight Series.

“I had no idea how much talent we have in this community,” Horner said. “There’s a lot of amazing artists out there who’ve won Grammys and traveled the world who live here in the valley. … We need to do this more often once we come out of this.”

Horner said the performance pavilion at Nottingham Park in Avon is close behind the Vilar Center with audiences returning, albeit in a smaller capacity.

“It took a long time to build the cultural base we have here in the community, and nobody wants to see that effort go to waste. We’re all in this together,” Horner said. “We’re only going to come out of this stronger and more together.”

To watch the Ghostlight Series performances, visit or follow the Vilar Center on YouTube and Facebook.

While the Vilar Center staff will continue to update protocols and learn with each performance, Horner said the goal is to get back to ticketed events open to the public.

“We look forward to welcoming people,” Horner said.

Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

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