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San Diego Symphony Prepares To Open ‘The Shell’

 April 13, 2021 at 10:43 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 A new shell awaits discovery on the San Diego shoreline. But this one, isn't the hard covering of a sea creature. As KPBS reporter, John Carol tells us this shell will soon provide amazing experiences of sight and sound for audiences. Speaker 2: 00:19 The familiar opening strains of Swan Lake performed by the San Diego symphony part of a special presented by KPBS and the symphony in 2019. One of the last performances at the old stage at Embarcadero Marina park, South it's replacement known simply as the shell will debut later, Speaker 3: 00:39 It's magnificent, it's elegant and it is ours. It is San Diego's Speaker 2: 00:46 Diego symphony CEO. Martha Gilmer says the shell will offer audiences delights for the eyes courtesy of a state-of-the-art lighting system and sound that comes from massive speakers on stage, but also speakers on towers out in the, Speaker 3: 01:00 So speakers are surround speakers, create a surround sound for the audience, you'll feel enveloped. And also there's a delay in it so that you will have a synchronized present sound. Speaker 2: 01:12 The $85 million price tag was paid for almost entirely by donors and opening date hasn't yet been set, but Gilmer says it will be no later than August John Carroll, KPBS news. Speaker 1: 01:29 The Symphony's new stage on the Embarcadero and the excitement over upcoming in-person concerts is only one of the reopening events that's being eagerly. Awaited. The pandemic has put everything from wedding parties to Comic-Con on hold. And now that weight seems to be coming to an end one person who has been waiting and hoping, and is now preparing is Laurel McFarland of MacFarlane promotions. She handles such iconic local celebrations as San Diego pride and Lamesa is October Fest and she joins me now. Laurel. Welcome. Speaker 4: 02:03 Thank you. Thank you for having me on Speaker 1: 02:05 Now, our community's beginning to open up. Can you tell me what we can do right now in terms of in-person events currently? Speaker 4: 02:13 Now we're waiting for guidelines to come out. They're supposed to be coming out on April 15th. So currently you can not do any events right now, but as you know, the California department of health released that you can start doing private events starting April 15th and the tears, obviously, as you know, will start going away on June 15th. We're all still working with the department of California health to exactly find out what that means to our industry, to the conventions, to your local community outdoor events. But for the first time in a long time, we're super hopeful. And we're really getting excited about the summer and fall and being able to bring back these events safely to our community. Speaker 1: 02:56 What's this past year been like for you, other professionals in the events industry, Speaker 4: 03:01 It's been a rollercoaster everywhere sometimes times where you're on the ground, not lying with tears, you know, cause you don't know where you're going or what you're doing. And for me personally, I built my business for over 20 years and to have no control, it's, it's, it's really crazy. You know, and other times we formed the San Diego Vint coalition and July with a bunch of event planners for outdoor community events. And it also has been very inspirational how our industry, which has never really come together, a band together has come together to create this coalition and to fight for guidelines. And we recently got Nathan Fletcher, um, to waive all the fees for the County for outdoor community permits for sheriffs, for fires. So it's been a roller coaster of emotions, quite frankly, it's been up and down and every day is different. Speaker 1: 03:56 Was there a time you thought you'd have to close your business for good? Speaker 4: 03:59 I think probably last may or June, you know, at that point, the PPP had come out right? And it had all gotten sucked up and us small businesses had nothing, you know, and we had no idea where we were going. There was nothing out there for us. And I think that was a really, really dark moment for a lot of us because, you know, we are losing employees having to let people go, but we had no, you know, roadmap and we still were fighting quite honestly until the last few weeks for a roadmap, but it was really, really scary around that time. And you just had to hold on tight, just like, you know, a roller coaster. And it was just a ride of our lives. And you know, we're still fighting for that and to understand what it means for us, but we are all artists in our own, right. Because that's what we love to do. We love to create. And we're, we've had a year to create amazing events in our head and we can't wait to bring those back to the community and show everything we've been working on and imagining late at night and talking to people. And we're super excited just to see our community again, Speaker 1: 05:08 Even with vaccinations going so well. Even with this pause in the Johnson and Johnson vaccine that we heard about earlier in the show, there's still a lot of concern about safety. What do you think it's going to take for people to feel comfortable in large gatherings again? Speaker 4: 05:24 Well, I like to say people you, in a sense you have been gathering, right? Swap meets have been open since June and you pay to get in there's two to 300 boosts. There's food courts, there's music. You've been going to farmer's markets. You've been going to craft markets and we're very CA we care a lot about people's safety. So we're not just opening the flood Gates and hoping everything is going to be okay. You know, we wrote guidelines, which includes increased sanitation, you know, mass for our employees, you know, way to check everyone, to make sure that either they got a negative COVID test or vaccine test, if that is required and we're prepared. We're one of the most regulated industry. You know, when I do an event for pride, I have fire vice health in go police. It goes on and on sitting in our events and we follow all the rules and regulations and we're, we're ready to open events safely. Speaker 4: 06:21 We've had a year to prepare. We've also done holiday in the village and Lamesa and Lopez art and wine. So I know people might be concerned about, you know, going out and gathering, but they haven't been gathering in swap meets already safely. And there is when you go to a swap meet, you pay to get in there's two to 300 boosts there's food courts. There's also farmer's markets. And last year we also did art walk in October and follow the San Diego event coalition guidelines. And there was no outbreaks from that event, which was amazing. And then we also follow the same guidelines with the Lamesa holiday in the village event. And the same thing we had no outbreaks come from doing that event safely. So we have already proven that we can do events safely, and we really hope that the CUNY starts to come around and come out and enjoy and celebrate with us. Speaker 1: 07:14 Now, this is San Diego restaurant week. You're involved in promoting that event. How is this week's restaurant week different than before the pandemic? Speaker 4: 07:22 Well, one of the things that's different is it hasn't happened in its true format in a year and a half. So this is the first time restaurant week is back to its traditional format with the three courses or drink option or the lunch option. So that's one of the biggest differences, right? Like this is super exciting. It's only a week. Um, we have a lot of restaurants participating. We also reduce a fee by over 70% for restaurants just to help bring them back in. And we had some amazing sponsors and what's, what's different is that we actually can do it, which is super exciting. And I know everybody's like someone sent me a text, best three restaurants for restaurant. We go and I was like, alright, here you go. You know, like there's just excitement in the air. That restaurant week is back to its original format. Speaker 1: 08:10 Do you have a best three restaurants for restaurant week? Speaker 4: 08:14 I love them all. I love all 95 restaurants. Speaker 1: 08:19 How important do you think this restaurant week is to the local restaurant community? Speaker 4: 08:23 I think it's huge because it brings, it's like a shot in the arm, right? That was what always restaurant we did. It was on the off months and it would just bring an influx of business right after the holidays or right after summer rush. And I think it just helps bring back some normality too, and, you know, get people out there, dining and dining, not just once a week, but dining multiple times during the week. So it really is an incredible opportunity for all the restaurants would be a part of it and also our local San Diego community to come back and, you know, with your, and safely gather and dine and have an incredible meal with incredible people and just laugh, right. Just laugh and smile. And it's really great where we're going with the vaccines and what's happening. So it's a lot more positive than it's ever been. And that's something to rejoice in. Speaker 5: 09:11 I have been speaking with Laurel McFarland of MacFarlane promotions, Laurel, thank you so much for speaking with us. Thank you. Thank you.

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The Symphony’s new stage on the Embarcadero...and the excitement over upcoming, in-person concerts...is only one of the re-opening events that’s being eagerly awaited. The pandemic has put everything from wedding parties to Comic Con on hold ...and now that wait seems to be coming to an end.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments