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Arts Outlook: Beth Domann

Executive Director, Springfield Little Theatre

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Beth Domann has devoted decades to the performing arts, serving in leadership roles at Springfield Little Theatre since 1996, when she became education director. She’s worked as the nonprofit’s executive director for almost 15 years.

SBJ: How would you describe 2020 for the arts industry?
Domann: It’s going to be one of the years you’ll look back and say, “That was a trip.” It’s weird. But I saw some good things come out of it. It made people realize you don’t take anything for granted. It shows the resilience of the arts. They pivoted and they turned, and then they had to turn again and figure out a way to do it and continue in a safe manner. It was a hard year. It was a humbling year. But I like to look at the upside of things. It was a good thing to look at it and see how can we do this differently and still maintain the integrity of our shows. I’m proud of that.

SBJ: Springfield Little Theatre recently announced year-over-year ticket subscriptions are down roughly 74%, equating to a loss of over $100,000 in revenue. How are you overcoming that?
Domann: That’s the real kicker, isn’t it? Most of our revenue comes from ticket sales, so it’s difficult. You just tighten your belt and we’re still producing shows. Fortunately, we got the (Paycheck Protection Program) loan and getting that kind of help has been a lifesaver.

SBJ: Stage productions returned in July with a limited capacity live audience and virtual show options. How has that worked out?
Domann: We’re doing OK. We came back with “Deep in the Heart of Tuna” and Mark [Gideon] and I had already been rehearsing it. It’s a two-person show. So we just had to revamp and do shows with a smaller cast and do that safely. And we were able to start letting people stream, which was really nice. That took a little while to kind of get going, so people who feel comfortable can come to the theater or they can stay at home. We’ve had people from all over the world that have watched shows. We do all our own streaming in-house.

SBJ
: The Ozarks Performing Arts League formed this year as an advocacy and fundraising group for Springfield Ballet, Springfield Little Theatre, Springfield Regional Arts Council and Springfield Regional Opera. What kind of an impact do you expect it to make?
Domann: There’s an interest in it because instead of having all these people come and knocking on your door all of the time, it’s more of a collaborative thing. It was really just established to get us through the pandemic. I’ll be interested to see if it continues further. Most people don’t really realize the major contribution that the arts make in this community. … It’s also a big perk for companies when they try to bring people in and they want to know what kind of arts do you have, what’s your culture? It’s pretty impressive that Springfield has the ballet, the opera, the symphony and Springfield Little Theatre. But OPAL’s impact is a work in progress.

SBJ: What industry challenges are carrying over into 2021?
Domann: We’re still not back to normal and aren’t back to being at full capacity, and are maintaining social distancing. It’ll be interesting to see how long it lasts – at least through April, as far as here with the mask mandates. Maybe May or June, depending on the vaccines and people’s comfort levels. ... Before the pandemic, everything was rocking right along and then it all came to a screeching halt. It seems like everything was tainted by the pandemic.

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