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How the PAC Kept the Arts Alive in a Pandemic Year

You might know the Performing Arts Center (PAC) as a convenient place to get free on-campus COVID-19 testing, but the PAC has done a lot more than that over the course of this past pandemic year to support the arts both on university-wide and local levels.

Throughout the pandemic, the PAC remained dedicated to keeping the arts accessible in our community and actively supported local arts organizations. When the arts and entertainment industry immediately shifted to virtual programming, many organizations lacked the equipment and expertise to provide high-quality streamed content. This is when PACSLO Productions came in to help.

“When restrictions were eased, our staff developed PACSLO Productions to create digital streaming content produced in-house,” said Nicole Pitman, graphic designer and marketing assistant for the PAC. “Last October, we created a free virtual concert series called ‘LIVE from the PAC’ featuring local artists from around the county. We also created an interview series called ‘5 Questions’ with individuals from the arts community discussing how they’ve been affected by the pandemic, their favorite moments at the PAC, and more.”

The PAC also puts on the the PAC School Matinee Program, which typically brings thousands of local students to free performances, but this year has gone virtual. This school year, the PAC partnered with Cal Poly Arts’ Poly Arts for Youth program to present free Virtual Field Trips that have served over 12,000 local K-12 students throughout the Central Coast from over 90 schools, according to Pitman. The last Virtual Field Trip of the school year features Versa-Style Dance Company, taking students on an educational journey through the culture and history of American street dance.

Teachers have been grateful to bring joy, music and culture to virtual learning through these performances. One local kindergarten teacher said, “It brought lightness and joy into a situation that has been really difficult for many of our families.”

Pitman also included that the PAC provided support to other arts organizations as needed through production assistance, performance ticketing, event promotion and technical support. These have included virtual concerts for SLO Symphony, Cal Poly Music Department, Cal Poly Theatre and Dance and Civic Ballet’s virtual Nutcracker performance. The PAC has even had the pleasure of hosting Festival Mozaic Music Director Scott Yoo for an episode of the PBS series “Now Hear This” that aired in October 2020.

The pandemic taught all of us how to be more adaptable, resilient and innovative in a time of crisis, and the PAC is no exception. “We are deeply grateful for the unwavering support from our patrons, community and colleagues as we look towards a safe and gradual reopening of the PAC.” Pitman concluded.