Like every music venue across the world, the Avalon Foundation has struggled to find ways to present live music during the COVID pandemic. Since news broke in March, the Avalon Foundation has been committed to the safety and well-being of the community that it serves. Even today, when it could have audiences of up to 100 people indoors, so far, the Foundation has restricted indoor programming to audiences of no more than 20 or 5% of its normal capacity.
Studies show that there is a 20 fold relative risk increase of transmission between being indoors verses being outdoors, so developing a covered outdoor venue would be a real game changer both for the Avalon Foundation and the many other organizations whose programming used to occur in the Theatre. Today the Avalon Foundation announces a new, socially distanced venue that will help fill this vital social & economic need.
Named “The Avalon Foundation’s Stoltz Pavilion,” this state-of-the-art tent structure will safely bring the fun of a night out back to Easton while supporting the downtown area in these challenging times.
“By creating this space we are giving the public an entertainment option that is specifically designed to significantly reduce infection risk,” said Al Bond, President and CEO of the Avalon Foundation. “But it will also attract more customers to small businesses downtown, especially hard-hit restaurants, while offering non-profit organizations a safer place to hold community events.”
To ensure safe social distancing, the Stoltz Pavilion will be arranged with 40 separate seating “pods” that will accommodate no more than four people each. According to Suzy Moore, the Avalon Foundation’s Artistic Director, observing healthy precautions in the venue will be a top priority.
“We will strictly adhere to all of the best practices and protocols in regards to COVID and will require that all patrons who choose to come, do the same,” said Moore. “In return, we are creating this very cool, very comfy, and quite cozy space for our guests with the same intimacy and attention to detail that the Avalon Theatre and Stoltz Listening Room are known for.” Each seating pod will contain either a table and stools or a comfortable love seat or love seat & chairs for parties of four. “And to top it off,” Moore added, “there will be table-top propane fire pits in most pods to keep the chill off on fall evenings.”
Even as it is safer to gather outdoors, the Foundation acknowledges that high risk patrons still need to remain at home. Thus it is committed to continuing to serve everyone by live streaming performances from the Stoltz Pavilion on YouTube and Facebook, so patrons can enjoy Avalon programming from the comfort and safety of their homes.
According to Bond, the Stoltz Pavilion, to be erected behind Talbot Town Center and NAPA Auto Parts in late October, will be much more than a simple tent edifice. The SaddleSpan S5000, designed by the Canadian-based Tentnology, is used for major festivals and cultural events around the world. The new Pavilion will span 60 x 111 feet. Its unique curved design, often compared to Australia’s iconic Sydney Opera House, uses no poles. The shape and space evenly distribute acoustics within the tent while muting sound outside.
Moore, who is currently arranging shows for the venue, admits that it feels great to be connecting with musical artists and agents again.
“Although many national artists are opting to stay home, there are still artists performing at safe and socially distanced outdoor venues,” said Moore. “The Stoltz Pavilion will provide such a haven for these artists, plus it offers a great opportunity to showcase some of the amazing regional talent found right here in our community.”
The total cost for the Stoltz Pavilion—including the tent, furnishings, security, etc.—is $210,000. The funding and development of the pavilion is a big move for the Avalon, ensuring sustainability through the pandemic and beyond. The pandemic has decimated the music industry and closed venues across the world. Opening a new venue at this time requires the support of people with real vision. Over many years the Stoltz family has been instrumental in helping the Avalon Foundation grow to be the largest arts organization on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Jack & Susan Stoltz both served on the Foundation’s Board of Trustees with transformational impact.
Over a decade ago the Foundation collaborated with their son, Keith Stoltz, to create the Stoltz Listening Room, which has grown a reputation in the industry as one of the best small-capacity venues anywhere, and now again to create the Stoltz Pavilion. As the owner of Electric Lady Studios (now celebrating its 50th year), Keith Stoltz is heavily involved in the music industry and understands how critical it is to develop ways to present live music safely.
According to Stoltz, “For me the Stoltz Pavilion is a continuation of the long term commitment of the Stoltz family to the Avalon Foundation. Just as importantly it will provide a creative solution to the challenges caused by the pandemic and hopefully become a permanent addition to the community. The whole industry depends on figuring this out.”
While the Pavilion is intended to meet important community needs during the ongoing pandemic, Bond imagines it has the potential to grow into a more long-lasting fixture.
“If everything goes well,” Bond said, “we are interested in pursuing a long-term use of the venue. If so, the exact seating capacity is yet to be determined, but it will certainly be a lot more than its current COVID capacity. In the meantime, the Stoltz Pavilion will provide a resource to the many organizations with whom the Avalon has been a long time partner; it will provide a meaningful boost to struggling businesses; it will put artists and support workers back on the job; it will bring the public a spark of much needed joy.”
For more information about the Stoltz Pavilion contact Al Bond at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about booking or community organization rental of the facility contact Suzy Moore at email@example.com. For information about upcoming performances watch avalonfoundation.org or sign up for the Foundation’s weekly email.