Texarkana gearing for Texas opening

Arkansas Online

TEXARKANA — Texas Gov. Greg Abbot’s order to phase in the reopening of some businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic means the Perot Theatre, Regional Arts Center and a handful of museum properties here will open partially, some soon and some later.

The Regional Arts Center and Perot Theatre will open for staff that work there, but they won’t open to the public until sometime after May 18, depending on further orders from the Texas governor, said Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council Executive Director Brian Goesl.

“It’s really dependent on what the governor has to say,” he said.

Some council staff will continue to work at home but others will return starting today. While the Arts Center is like a museum, they have mixed feelings about reopening, Goesl said.

“The majority of our volunteers are over 65 years of age, so we would like this to settle down a little bit more,” Goesl said. They’ll wait until the second round to possibly further open, he explained, noting they’ll have a reduced schedule and staff will also wear masks.

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“Definitely we’re doing social distancing,” Goesl said. Where they can, staff will be stationed in different offices.

“We don’t want to expose our volunteers to any opportunity for them to get covid-19, so that’s what we’re doing,” Goesl said.

The Four States Regional Art Club’s art exhibit is now up at the Regional Arts Center. The council has presented a few online videos at its Facebook page that offered a glimpse of the art there.

Virtual tours of the Perot have also been shared.

The council’s annual Juried Exhibition will be rescheduled to later this year (Aug. 21 to Oct. 3). The Potted Potter show at the Perot will be rescheduled to a future date (possibly spring of 2021), while The Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular is still slated for July 11.

Goesl said they can still get a good audience size with social distancing measures at the Pink Floyd show.

An Elf on the Shelf show that would have been at the Perot over Christmas won’t be on the road for another year now.

“This is what’s happened to venues across the United States. This is drastic, what’s happened,” Goesl said. For producers, it’s too much of a risk, and shelter-in-place restrictions mean costs can’t be covered. “That’s what we’re all facing,” he said.

So, for Perot shows, everything is still up in the air. The Muses will return Sept. 12 to share opera classics at the Arts Center’s Cabe Hall, a room where social distancing is possible.

At the Texarkana Museums System, board president Velvet Cool said their plan is that they’ll first contact to staff to see who is available and can return to work.

“Our goal is to open up the Museum of Regional History, the Ace of Clubs House, and reopen the Ahern House, which wasn’t closed because of [Arkansas Gov.] Asa Hutchinson … we just didn’t have the staff any longer,” Cool said, adding, “Discovery Place, I’m assuming we’ll find out May 18 if we can open interactive museums.”

“Our employees, some of them are actually concerned, concerned about coming back to work, concerned about their risk, concerned about if there’s a resurgence and the governor goes back to shutting things down. Will they be able to file for unemployment like they did this time?” Cool said.

State Desk on 05/04/2020

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