The Chillicothe Area Arts Council has suspended its 2020-2021 season due to COVID-19 and concerns about restrictions.

“It is with sincere regret that we must let you know the 2020/21 show season is being suspended until July 2021. This difficult decision is in the interest of protecting our artists, patrons and community members. Your health and well-being are highly important to us,” Mary Lou VanDeventer administrator said in a letter to council members.

So far, the cancellation just affects the concerts and events schedules for the Performing Arts Center, no decision has been made on Chautauqua, though the council has called off all performances for the annual Sliced Bread Days events, and canceled the Sunrise Service at Hedrick Medical Center.

Members of the Sliced Bread Days committee said an official decision for Sliced Bread Days events has not been made yet, the group meets again, today, Wednesday.

VanDeventer said that keeping everyone healthy is the council’s main concern, and as they continue to monitor social distancing and other restrictions, she hopes they will be able to add community events, including jam sessions.

One event she hopes to have by July 4 will be a patriotic and inspirational tribute, allowing community members to share stories of kindness and good deeds they saw or were a part of during the recent pandemic, and also serve as a time to honor all of those who have worked hard to keep the community safe and running. VanDeventer will sing and be accompanied by Kansas City area Pianist Dr. James Cockman.

“I want this to be a very informal, but supportive and helpful event where everyone can come together in song and word, to simply be together again and celebrate and recall how strong, helpful and caring out community really is.”

She is also hoping to have a Veteran’s Day event in November at the museum with Larry Vance. “Hopefully we won’t be forced to retreat again in the winter months. It is challenging times for all of us,” Vandeventer said.

Vandenventer encourages community members to reach out to her if they have ideas, or are looking for opportunities to find live entertainment.

“While it may sound like it is going to be downtime it really isn’t - we are going to do our best to keep a positive attitude,” she said. “Our community cannot go without music, it cannot. A lot of us are music lovers.”

In the meantime, VanDeventer is keeping an eye on area entertainment events and is letting members of the council and its season ticket holders know through blast emails.

With the cancellation of the season, those with season tickets are being asked to donate their tickets back to the group, in order to help with lack of funding due to COVID.

“Donations are beginning to come in and several of others have donated [season] tickets back to the arts,” she said, “I have always known we have a very supportive community and we hope we can come through this strong and ready to put forward the season we had planned for this year for next year.”

Through a variety of federal programs, the council has received a few grants, which Vandeventer said has helped them through the crisis initially. Other funding sources are on hold or have been much less than in years past.

“Things are tough for all of us,” she said. “I just really encourage anyone to do what they can do, this is such a giving community, and I do believe we will all come out stronger on the other side of this.”

If you would like to make a donation to the Chillicothe Area Arts Council or have questions, call 660-646-1173.