Lied Center for Performing Arts

by Lauren Silverman Durban & Matthew Boring

On September 26, 2020, the Lied Center for Performing Arts became the first venue in the nation to host a touring Off-Broadway or Broadway show from New York since the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic. The cast and crew of
NEWSical The Musical, the 5th-longest running Off-Broadway show in history, traveled to Lincoln and revived their show for two historic performances in front of enthusiastic socially-distanced audiences. Extensive safety measures were taken on the part of the Lied Center and the NEWSical team, and no illnesses were reported in connection with the event for anyone in the cast, crew, or audience.

Exactly one month later, the Lied Center and NEWSical made history together again when a broadcast of the show was released nationwide in a pay-per-view format. The performances of NEWSical were recorded on the Lied Center’s new high-definition, broadcast-quality video system, a grant-funded addition to the Lied’s efforts to continue serving the community during the pandemic and beyond. Three remotely-operated cameras are mounted on the balcony railing, and two additional cameras can be placed on or near the stage as needed. Recording NEWSical was the first outing for the new system, and the plan is for it to be the first of many performances made available to audiences who can’t attend in person.

The mission of the Lied Center is to educate, entertain, and inspire the people of Nebraska, and the challenges of 2020 made it necessary to find new and creative ways to serve that mission when physically gathering becomes difficult or even impossible. The Lied Live Online series began immediately after the shutdown in March 2020, first broadcast directly from artists’ homes and later from the Lied’s Carson Theater. Most recently, Lied Live Online concerts are taking place on the Lied Center’s main stage, with a socially-distanced audience in attendance along with those watching from home via the Lied Center’s Facebook page and website. Neighborhood concerts made possible by a traveling bicycle powered stage were also launched throughout the City of Lincoln as part of the Lied’s Music on the Move concert series.

In addition, Lied Learning Online provides weekly arts education events ranging from the video podcast Lunch & Learn, which goes inside the arts industry with nationally-recognized guests, to Tiny Lieders, which provides fun music and movement classes for young children. The lunchtime virtual concert series Huskers in the Spotlight is also broadcast live from the Lied, featuring UNL students and alumni who are making a splash in the music industry. All Lied Live Online and Lied Learning Online events are presented free of charge as a gift to the community.

As audiences return to the Lied Center to enjoy world-class performing arts experiences, focus also remains on providing top-quality arts content to audiences at home. Through a new collaboration with LNK TV, the testing of a Lied Center app for smart tvs, the new broadcasting system, and more, the Lied Center will continue to deliver the arts to the people of Nebraska and beyond. In this challenging time, the hope, joy, and inspiration provided by the arts are more important than ever. Whether in person or virtually, the Lied Center is Nebraska’s home for the performing arts.

Learn more about Lied Center programs at liedcenter.org

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