Six-month, socially distant outdoor festival to debut at Dr. Phillips Center

 Six-month, socially distant outdoor festival to debut at Dr. Phillips Center





-- Arts center pioneers socially-distanced outdoor venue to give festival-goers  

a safe, healthy environment -- 


 Dr. Phillips Center is planning a six-month, live entertainment event designed to reignite Central Florida’s local arts scene and bring people back together in a safe, engaging environment.  


Plans call for transforming the arts center’s three front parcels, including the Seneff Arts Plaza, into the region’s most unique, dedicated outdoor entertainment venue that will showcase a diverse mix of music, comedy, films, health and wellness programs, and local community arts performances.  


The arts center hopes to launch the festival sometime in December and eventually offer programming seven days a week. 


“COVID-19 has created significant challenges for performing arts centers and stages around the world,” said Dr. Phillips Center President and CEO Kathy Ramsberger. “To keep our mission moving forward, our team has come up with a unique way for guests to re-connect and re-engage with one another and enjoy live entertainment and culture again. This big idea is gaining fantastic support by sponsors, partners and artists.” 


In addition, to live entertainment plus health and wellness programs, several local restaurants and popular food trucks will be on-site each day, offering seasonal menus, beer, wine, and cocktails for purchase. 


Many performances will be ticketed, allowing artists and arts groups to generate some much-needed revenue, and there are plans to offer daytime programs showcasing professional musicians at no cost.  


“More than anything, we’re excited to produce a platform that will reunite artists and wellness instructors with live audiences,” Ramsberger said.   



Health & Safety First 

To keep guests properly distanced from one another, the arts center is building 380 elevated seating “pods” inspired by a similar outdoor venue created at the Virgin Money Unity Arena in Newcastle, UK.  

Each 5’ x 7’ pod, which can seat up to five guests, will be built using metal scaffolding materials with six feet of space between each pod.  

Additional health and safety protocols—developed with guidance from federal, state and local health authorities and the arts center’s partner, AdventHealth—follow: 

  • Masks will be required: 
    • at all times by all event staff  
    • for all artists and their team members, unless they are actively performing on stage 
    • for all guests, unless they are seated in their pods and actively eating or drinking 
  • Touchless temperature and bag checks will be performed prior to entry. Any guest with a temperature of 100.4 or more (CDC guidance), or exhibiting physical symptoms, will not be permitted to enter. 

  • Food will be available for pre-purchase when guests buy their tickets online. Once on-site, guests can use a food-ordering app and have their food delivered directly to their pod. Both pre-order options are expected to keep walk-up ordering (and potential crowding) to a minimum.  


City Support For Front Yard Festival 


Yesterday, the Orlando City Council unanimously approved a $250,000 grant request from the Community Redevelopment Agency that will be used to help build the event infrastructure—staging, sound, lighting, and fencing, among other elements.  


"Arts and events not only help provide needed jobs and employment for our residents, but also food for our souls,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “That’s why we are proud to partner with the Dr. Phillips Center as they create a new outdoor venue in our downtown. The space will help bring our arts back and bring our community safely together to gather, celebrate, relax and be inspired.”  



Front Yard Festival Accelerates Arts Center’s Long-Range Plan 


Since the arts center opened in 2014, the Seneff Arts Plaza has been utilized by several local arts organizations to host special events, including Orange County’s annual “Fusion Fest” and Creative City Project’s annual “Immerse.” It also became a gathering point for thousands of community members to mourn and memorialize those lost in the Pulse tragedy in 2016. 


“Fully activating the arts center’s front parcels and Seneff Arts Plaza has always been part of our long-range plan,” said Ramsberger. “We had intended to complete Phase 2—Steinmetz Hall and The Green Room—then turn our attention to conceptualizing how we could transform the plaza into a vibrant, active outdoor space for the arts, entertainment and wellness.  


“Once we began to understand the full implications of COVID, however, and how it will continue to impact the entire entertainment industry for months to come, we decided to move up our timeline and focus more resources on the plaza while at the same time finish Phase 2.” 


Because the Front Yard Festival will take place in a controlled, socially-distanced outdoor environment, the arts center has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from artists, agents and touring companies, nearly all of which have been unable to perform for months. Likewise, corporations who’ve been approached as potential partners are also excited about the opportunity to once again engage with consumers in person.  


“Everyone we’ve talked to is so excited and supportive about working together to help launch the festival,” said Ramsberger. “The spirit of this project is about providing a lift to the entire community through positive partnerships, and that’s what makes the Front Yard Festival so meaningful and worthwhile.”   


Additional announcements about opening dates, shows, tickets, and sponsors will be shared in the coming weeks.  

About Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts  

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is a private, not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization operating the state-of-the-art performing arts center in downtown Orlando, Fla. With its opening in November 2014, the arts center has become a gathering place for creativity and discovery, and a vibrant urban destination where artists, audiences and students come to experience, explore and learn. The two-block community destination features the 2,700-seat Walt Disney Theater, 300-seat Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater, Seneff Arts Plaza, AdventHealth School of the Arts, the DeVos Family Room and other event rental spaces. Under construction is Steinmetz Hall, a 1,700-seat acoustical theater, along with rehearsal, classroom, office space and commercial development spaces. Dr. Phillips Center collaborates with the City of Orlando, Orange County, the City of Winter Park, the State of Florida and generous donors.  

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