Freeman Stage ushers in new year with new name - Delaware State News | Delaware State News

tagsWood Auditorium Chair

SELBYVILLE — In 2020, the global pandemic has greatly reduced the performing arts industry, tours have been cancelled, and even the oldest venues in the country have closed.

However, the Selbyville-based art organization Freeman Stage (Freeman Stage) successfully launched the 2020 season, despite the smaller numbers and smaller crowds, all mandatory public safety regulations are in place. It held 49 performances between July and September and received more than 11,000 spectators in its open space, equipped with a "cockpit", hand sanitizer station and mask requirements.

The post-season survey showed that its "special art season" received a 97% approval rate, and most of the participants said they plan to return to the 2021 performance, regardless of whether they participated in COVID.

They will return to the larger venue under a new name.

Patti Grimes, executive director of the Joshua Freeman Foundation, who presided over the project, said: "We think now is the right time to transition from the Freeman stage to the Freeman Art Gallery. It marks our commitment to the future of the region.". "This is the latest in a series of bold initiatives that we have taken as an organization to expand our business scope and continue to fulfill our mission as a non-profit organization."

On November 12, the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Committee approved a temporary site selection plan that will enable the organization to expand its existing seating capacity, which will be reduced from 2,700 prior to COVID to during the pandemic season 388 (97 pods with four seats each). The organization recently acquired the site alongside the current Freeman Stage property.

“The Freeman Art Gallery has been in the planning stage for a long time. We realized in 2020 that our small footprint may limit our ability to show live art performances in the future,” Ms. Grimes said. "Given the success of the pod concept last year and the current public health environment caused by the pandemic, we decided to adopt a phased approach to our new property."

Following the same safety protocol (applicable to the abbreviated season of 2020), the new larger lawn will accommodate up to 500 cabins, each with a maximum capacity of four customers, but the final capacity figure is still being determined. According to Grimes, the organization has booked more than half of the upcoming 2021 season, which includes many national recording artists that were originally scheduled for 2020 but failed to appear.

Employees and the board of directors, led by president and chairman Michelle D. Freeman, have been monitoring state and CDC guidelines and remain "vigilant and flexible" when setting seasons.

At the same time, a capital campaign will be launched to complete the funding required for the new proposed investment of US$27 million in the facility, which will accommodate approximately 4,000 customers (with 1,100 seats under the roof) and provide state-of-the-art Sound equipment, lighting and video functions, expanded concessions and dining areas, as well as artist’s dressing rooms and production spaces. According to the progress and fundraising goals, the final construction is expected to be completed in four to six years.

Ms. Freeman emphasized that the Freeman Art Museum is not only a venue for local residents and guests to provide excellent performing arts.

She said: "From the day it was founded, the mission of this organization has been to make art available to all."

"Even during the pandemic, we have fulfilled this mission through live performances, virtual art in educational programs, and the distribution of English and Spanish grade-guided handicrafts to local schoolchildren. The vision for the future is physical and metaphorical. In a sense, it creates a bigger stage for the local community."

"Big Rich Special" is published once a month and mailed to readers in the Dover area. You can also read

, Is a digital copy of the printed version.


. all rights reserved.

Designed by

Contact Us
  • Maggie Kwan
  • +86 757 2363 2953
  • +86 139 2480 2689
  • +86 757 2387 9469
  • +86 139 2480 2689