Opening Night, OKC’s New Year’s Eve celebration produced by Arts Council Oklahoma City, will not be a ticketed event this year. Instead, the event will be a free, virtual livestream experience for the entire community. After several internal discussions with Opening Night volunteer Co-Chairs Colby Wedel and Mark McBride and Board President Kati Christ, the decision was made to turn Opening Night into a virtual livestream event for the health and safety of the community. “Sadly, with ever increasing cases of COVID-19 in our city and state we had to rethink how to produce Opening Night this year,” says Executive Director Peter Dolese. “Since the pandemic began, we’ve had great success virtually livestreaming several of our other programs such as Art Moves and Sunday Twilight Concert Series. Those experiences will help us create a fantastic livestream Opening Night. A free virtual experience just makes sense right now so our entire community can enjoy it safely.”
Opening Night was originally scheduled to be an outdoor event at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark with extensive safety protocols in place for guests to roam the park and enjoy interactions with artists and musical acts. However, with the ongoing increase of COVID-19 cases, the community’s health and safety became the most important concern. “We have been working closely with OKC County Health Department to look at various scenarios for Opening Night and together we have come to the conclusion, it should not be a ticketed event,” says Dolese. “In person gatherings in the magnitude created by events like Opening Night are not safely part of our current reality,” says Dolese.
“The livestream experience for Opening Night was always going to be a key factor for this year’s event,” says Project Director Seth Lewis. “We are excited to continue production at the fabulous Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. We’ll still have bands performing on the field and various locations throughout the park creating a virtually dynamic experience for the community in the safest way possible.”
“This was a decision made from an abundance of caution and desire to protect the community of OKC,” says Co-Chair Mark McBride. “But getting to enjoy local music, fireworks, and other holiday magic while safely in our pajamas feels like an especially fitting end to 2020!”
“We believe we can create an extraordinary party to say goodbye to 2020 and ring in the new year,” says Co-Chair Colby Wedel. “We look forward to welcoming a new year full of hope as we slowly bring our world back to normal.”
Additional information and updates about the Opening Night livestream program will be available soon at ACOKC’s website. Furthermore, Opening Night’s kickoff event, the Finale 5K run is also virtual this year. Registration is now available at artscouncilokc.com