Coachella Valley Arts Organizations Announce Plans for Upcoming Season

Helen Lundeberg’s acrylic on canvas painting Greys with Orange (1979) from the artist’s Palm Springs Art Museum online exhibition, on view at Courtesy Palm Springs Art Museum/Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Alan Leslie.


As the fall season starts coming into view, Coachella Valley arts organizations have begun announcing plans to present their programs with stringent new safety protocols and the frustrating possibility of additional venue closures.

In the past week alone, Modernism Week announced it might offer a virtual Fall Preview weekend in October. “It has become clear that it will not be possible for us to present live events in the fall due to state and city regulations during this pandemic,” the organization explains on its M Weekly blog. “However, we hope to create a sampling of online virtual programs that will be educational, engaging, and entertaining.”

Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre, aka CVRep, has postponed its season opener to January 2021 after a survey of patrons revealed most were uncomfortable returning in the fall, says artistic director Ron Celona. CVRep will present an abbreviated season of three plays and a youth outreach production. Tickets go on sale in October. Meanwhile, CVRep’s virtual Theatre Thursdays are building an audience of their own. Upcoming programs include Brent and Erika Schindele performing their favorite love songs from Broadway’s Golden Era in “He Loves & She Loves” (Aug. 6) and the return of the monthly singalong CARE-ie-okie (Aug. 13).

Palm Springs Art Museum, which has been creating online exhibitions and activities since March, plans a gradual reopening this fall with modified hours, timed ticketing, and safety protocols including masks, social distancing, and continual disinfection of surfaces such as door handles, handrails, elevators, and restrooms. Visitors will see the exhibition Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist, which was organized by the Phoenix Art Museum and most recently installed at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, as well as a companion show focusing on the Pelton’s desert landscape paintings. Gerald Clarke: Falling Rock, which opened in January, will continue for a limited time, while a new exhibition, Pure, Simple, and Beautiful Forms: Glass from the Collection, opens with a refreshed installation of works from the permanent collectionAt the museum’s Architecture and Design Center, the exhibition Jim Isermann. Copy. Pattern. Repeat will continue through the end of the year.

Instead of a live gala, the museum has scheduled its Virtual Art Party for Dec. 4. Likewise, Artrageous: A Drive-in Auction is scheduled for March 9, 2021.

In lockstep with the 93rd Academy Awards, postponed by two months to April 25, 2021, the Palm Springs International Film Festival has announced new dates: February 25–March 8, 2021. The format will likely include both in-person and virtual programming. “The health and safety of our patrons and staff, as well as a memorable and enjoyable festival experience, remain at the center of our focus,” the festival website says. “We must adapt our plans, timelines, and production to meet current and future health and safety guidelines that will affect festival operations.”

Sunnylands Center and Gardens plans to open to a limited number of daily visitors in September and possibly begin small-group tours in October. Director Janice Lyle says Sunnylands is “determined” to open its exhibition of optical and kinetic art by Yaacov Agam, but the safety of staff and visitors will come first. Visit the Sunnylands website for updates.

Meanwhile, Palm Springs Cultural Center opened its drive-in experience in July with screenings on weekend evenings. Upcoming movies include American Graffiti (Aug. 7), Heavy Metal and Cool World (double feature, Aug. 8), and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (Aug. 9).

The startup Palm Springs Dance Academy invites the public Aug. 8, from noon to 3 p.m., to see its new, state-of-the-art studio and meet the faculty, including artistic director Michael Nickerson-Rossi, who has been providing dance education in the Coachella Valley since 2013. He created the academy for “gifted young dance artists in recognition of their need for highly specialized and rigorous training,” he says. To celebrate the grand opening, the academy is offering free dance classes Aug. 10–13.

And in mid-July, KESQ News Channel 3 aired a special half-hour presentation of the music video “Together,” showcasing the finalists from the annual McCallum Theatre Open Call talent project. Hosted by Patrick Evans and featuring a cast of local performers ranging in age from 8 to 89, the program included interviews with performers, a behind-the scenes look at the shooting of the music video, and an excursion into the desert wilderness. The video reflects the spirit of talent, unity, and creativity that is the hallmark of 20-year-old Open Call program. Details about the theater’s season were unavailable at press time. Visit the McCallum Theatre website for updates.

And Desert X, the biennial exhibition of site-specific art, returns in February with its third show featuring contemporary artists from around the world responding to the life and times of the Coachella Valley, as well as programs featuring locally based artists. Visit the Desert X website for updates.