RED WING -- Sheldon Theatre staff asked theatergoers to fill out a survey to indicate when they would feel comfortable returning to the venue for live performances and events.

As of Monday, Jan. 25, 384 individuals responded to the survey. Interim Executive Director Jeff Larson reported that 70% of respondents do not expect that they will feel safe returning to the Sheldon for a live performance before the middle of this summer due to what is currently known about COVID-19.

What does this mean?

Based on these results, feedback from the artists and Sheldon staff’s projections about the next few months, staff are working to move the remaining live performances scheduled for this spring to a virtual platform. Depending on vaccine availability, the Sheldon is keeping open the possibility of indoor shows over the summer and may be able to allow a small in-person "studio audience" for the virtual shows this spring.

Staff members also are working with the artists now on switching to virtual formats. Stay tuned for an announcement of the lineup in February.

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The Sheldon will continue to plan its 2021-2022 season as it has for every previous season. Many shows that were canceled in 2020 and 2021 have been rescheduled to next year, and the theater has new shows in the works that they are excited to share with the community, according to Larson. A traditional 2021-22 full season announcement is planned for the end of May, with immediate ticket availability for members of the Friends of the Sheldon.

As Larson said earlier this month, deciding when to cancel shows has been a challenge for him and Sheldon staff.

“It's been heart-wrenching to cancel all of these shows, and the decision never gets easier,” Larson said. “We hate seeing the Sheldon empty, and were very excited about the shows we had planned for this year. Luckily, the artists have been just as excited about coming to Red Wing as we are about them, so we've been able to reschedule most of them for next season.”

According to Larson, Sheldon employees have reached out to their audience over the past few months and continue numerous informal conversations with community members.

Larson reflected, “The message we've heard over and over again is ‘we're glad you're closed.’ That's not at all what you want to hear in normal times, but people are very on board with our decision to be safe and prudent until health professionals say it's ok to reopen for large indoor gatherings.”

For more information about the Sheldon Theatre and upcoming events, visit www.sheldontheatre.org.