Opening Night goes virtual because of pandemic


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Opening Night, the Arts Council’s New Year’s celebration, will be virtual for the first time due to the pandemic.

The event will be live streamed from the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. 

“It’s exciting in a way because it’s so completely new and different than the way we normally do it,” Peter Dolese, executive director of Arts Council OKC, said. “We still felt like it was extremely important, specifically this year, to say goodbye to 2020, and it’s been our job with Opening Night, as the New Year’s Eve celebration, to kind of say goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new year.”

He says they made the call to go virtual after Thanksgiving.

“There was another surge in numbers right after Thanksgiving and we saw the holiday season looming, and it just didn’t make any sense to try to push the envelope,” he said. “We just didn’t want to take the chance. We didn’t want to consider our event to be a spreader event.”

He says there will be no shortage of excitement ringing in the new year virtually with bands, magicians, dancers, fireworks, and the ball raise.

Some acts will be prerecorded, and others will be streamed in real time. Dolese says the Arts Council has already had plenty of practice putting on virtual productions.

“We’ve had quite a bit of experience now because ever since the pandemic happened, we switched over programming literally within one week,” Dolese said.

One of the acts, magician Joe Coover, says he’s already been doing virtual shows and meetings because of the pandemic.

“In the beginning, there was a little bit more of, ‘oh no, you got to unmute, you gotta do your little thing.’ I have little things, I’m like, ‘it’s this button or this button,'” he said.

He says he’s been curating acts to work better virtually.

“If timing is an issue, or I’m going to be asking a lot of questions or something like that, or there will be a lot of lag of like, ‘huh?’ So I’ve been trying to work on a lot of stuff, that’s, for lack of a better term, TV-friendly,” Coover said. 

For a full line up for Opening Night and how/where to watch, click here

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