While the Hult Center’s stages have been devoid of performers for the last year, their halls, rafters, and theaters have seen a flurry of activity.
“We’ve stayed busy during this downtime and are excited to begin the process of welcoming our community back into our building and artists to our stages,” says Theresa Sizemore, Hult Center general manager. “The health and safety of our guests, presenters, and staff members has been and will always be our top priority. With our recent improvements and investments, we hope to meet and exceed the needs of our patrons, so they not only feel safe in our venue, but also have the greatest experience imaginable.”
On our tour of the facility earlier this week, both Sizemore and director of theater and facility operations Jeff Weinkauf emphasized how these important improvements will allow patron access and engagement outside of the Hult’s walls and enhance the “home to seat to home” experience.
While some of the upgrades are immediately visible, others, like a rewiring of the wireless internet system to match stadium bandwidth standards and allow for streamlined communication between center equipment, quietly enhance everyone’s experience at the Hult Center, from attendees to stage hands, before, during, and after the show. The full-system integration and heavy-duty network “backbone” connect everything for improved functionality and speeds and allow for flexibility before and during performances.
A new website, ticketing system, and other digital enhancements have come as well, easing virtual access.
Lights and Cameras
Improved moving LED lights can be pre-programmed for quick switches between shows and reduce power usage compared to their predecessors.
A new camera system includes three Blackmagic Design URSA Broadcast Cameras with UHD and 4K capture capabilities, and two Panasonic PTZ cameras with 4K capture and remote-control capabilities. Both cameras will help with both streaming opportunities into the future as well as offer a service for local arts organizations to record their performances. Because the Panasonic camera is small, it’s easier to place in inconspicuous places for up-close-and-personal shots.
The Big Screen
At the center of these enhancements is the ROE Creative Display LED video wall. During our tour, as images of classic Hult Center shots cycled through, the clarity and impact of this 60-panel wall was obvious. In all its glory, it is 15.7 feet tall and 30 feet wide, but it is adaptable, able to break down and be stacked in many different ways. It’s impressive on the Silva Concert Hall stage, but can also be used in other locations, including the lobby and even outside.
Clean and Safe
Even as we get closer and closer to normal, or at least the new normal, health and sanitation will remain at the forefront of everyone’s mind. As part of the Hult Center’s upgrades, they’ve invested in a few different practices to mitigate spread of COVID-19 and other health concerns. Superficially, they will use electrostatic cleaning equipment for full disinfection, which atomizes the cleaning solution to attract it to surfaces for a full and proper coating. Meanwhile, a new high-capacity HVAC system can recycle 1.5 million cubic feet of air in the Silva Concert Hall 2.4 times each hour.
Backstage, all equipment will be cleaned both between events and uses, including with the use of UV lights that can fully clean a microphone in three minutes. Contract tracing measures have also been put in place, as have policies of no contact between patrons and artists before or after events.
A Return to the Stage
Next week, the Hult Center will welcome performers back to the stage with the launch of their new 10×10 Series. 50 in-person tickets are available, sold in groups of two or four, as are livestream tickets. RatieD will be kicking off the series, with more to follow.
Weinkauf said that he is excited that they will be able to say “yes” to more things. As more and more touring groups bring highly technical shows, the Hult Center will be able to bring those groups in to serve its regional audience.
The enhancements may not be immediately obvious, but the sense of comfort, ease of access, and incredible attention to patron experience will make your next trip to the Hult Center an outstanding one.