What it took to keep the Fox Theater ready for live audiences

Posted at 10:40 PM, May 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-31 01:40:29-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Lorne Michaels once said there's a moment when a group of people who don't know each other become an audience.

The Fox Theater downtown was the place you went to experience that feeling in Tucson.

It's Executive Director, Bonnie Schock, recalls receiving phone calls from performers, not one week into starting a new position last March.

"They contacted me on my first day to say that they were not going to be able to, to come."

She had just relocated from Minnesota eager to start booking performances at the Fox.

"No one was even talking about canceling right? It was all about postponing. Pretty quickly, that all snowballed."

The snowball: a once in a generation pandemic.

It separated us all and emptied the stage at the Fox Theater.

"And so I drove back to Minnesota."

Life went on for Schock as it did for most of us, but at the Fox, 13 full time employees, dozens of part time workers and even more contract workers were out of a job.

"A building like the fox costs about $50,000 a month."

Schock said that money came from federal small business loans and more than one million dollars in local donations.

"People continue to support us and that's what's made it work for the Fox."

The theater is counting on funds from the 'Shuttered Venue Operators Grant,' the largest ever investment in the arts from Washington.

With those funds, Schock said lights can start beckoning strangers again.

"Our ability to come together and share that kind of joy that you don't get anywhere else than having a shared experience with other people of art."

Strangers will fill these seats and once again share that moment when they become an audience at the Fox Theater.