WHBPAC is Back!

WHBPAC is Back!

Priscilla Calise, Staff Writer

The Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center has once again opened up to the public after being shut down due to Covid. 

The theater is an anchor in WHB. When it was shut down it affected so many people and they had to figure out a covid safe way that the theater could still perform. Julianne Penza Boone,  executive director of theater, said, “The Theater made it their top priority to keep delivering on their mission.” 

According to Boone, the first thing that they did when the theater was shut down was to invest in high-quality cameras. The cameras were used for live streaming performances. Getting cameras had a big impact for the theater because it made it possible to stream shows and still have an audience. Over 600 patrons watched the streams from their homes. 

During the summer of 2020 the theater held many outside events. Working with the Village of Westhampton Beach, they hosted events at the Great Lawn and had two drive-in concerts because people weren’t able to gather outside. 

In summer 2021, when Covid restrictions became more lenient, it was much easier to have shows. Bonne said, “We had five outdoor concerts where people sat socially distanced on the lawn in lawn chairs.” She said they served about 2000 audience members this way.

When the vaccine was finally approved the theater was only able to open as much as New York State said they could, but things still changed in a positive way. Boone said, “We went from not being able to have anyone in the theatre for many months, to being able to have 33% capacity, which is about 100 people.” Just like any theatre in NY, WHBPAC requires everyone to still wear masks. People coming to watch the show can either show proof of being vaccinated or a negative Covid test. 

The theater wasn’t able to serve as many people as they would have in a normal year. Not being able to book camps or shows at their full capacity was really tough. Focusing on fundraising helped the theatre since they couldn’t rely on the ticket venue. 

Overall the theatre found ways to make the most out of the pandemic and they are now back and doing great. Boone said, “We just had to get super creative, which we did-and thankfully were able to survive!” Visit whbpac.org for their upcoming events!