In reimagining the future of arts and culture in the valley, local leaders and organizations are looking to the past and finding inspiration in one of the more popular pastimes of the late ’50s and early ’60s — the drive-in movie.
The Arts Campus at Willits, in partnership with Crown Mountain Park, announced Wednesday plans to host a drive-in screening of the film, “Havana Moon: The Rolling Stones Live in Cuba,” on June 19.
Labeled “Let’s Spend the Night Together with the Stones at The Drive-In!,” the event marks the start of the valley’s return to in-person (not virtual) art, entertainment and cultural experiences in the COVID-19 world, TACAW executive director Ryan Honey said.
“Arts and culture are the heart of this valley — they have been for more than 50 years,” Honey said via phone Wednesday.
Amid the “tsunami of cancellations and bad news” due to the novel coronavirus, Honey said TACAW is eager to present a shared cultural experience that allows people to get together safely.
“People are so hungry for community,” Honey said, as well as the desire to connect with people off-screen.
“The drive-in solves so many problems, and it’s a proven technology,” he said.
TACAW will project “Havana Moon: The Rolling Stones Live in Cuba” on a 40-foot temporary screen with audio broadcast via FM radio.
Asked why the choice of film, Honey quipped, “Who doesn’t love the Rolling Stones?” He also said that, in envisioning the overall experience, event organizers contemplated factors such as what audio would travel well over the radio and what content would appeal to the most number of people.
Tickets to the show ($10 per vehicle) go on sale May 26, and are expected to sell out quickly. The fee will not cover the cost of producing the event, but donations are welcome.
While the event organizers initially intended to host the film at no cost to viewers, after realizing how excited some folks were, Honey said they determined that tickets would be the most effective way to limit the number of vehicles, which is capped at 150.
“Having a ticket seemed critical … we don’t want to have a Woodstock situation on our hands,” Honey joked.
All ticket buyers must enter their license plate number to ensure access for their car. The doors to the event will open at 7:45 p.m., at which time vehicles can park on a first-come, first-served basis. The film will start at 8:45 p.m.
The inaugural event is also partnering with local restaurants, which patrons are encouraged to visit before the show to pick up special to-go offerings. Partner restaurants and their special menus will be announced online in advance of the event.
Ticket holders will also receive specific instructions for parking, bathroom access and social distancing prior to the event. The Arts Center at Willits and Crown Mountain Park ask all participants to adhere to these instructions to ensure that this event can be the first of many this summer.
“We may be the first ones doing it, [but] we certainly won’t be the last,” Honey said. “We hope others will follow suit and that our whole community, the whole valley, can get back to enjoying the arts and culture that make it what it is.”
Plans for a drive-in movie are also in the works in the upper valley.
Although half-baked, the notion itself has caught the attention of many local nonprofits, municipalities, businesses and residents.
Pitkin County commissioner and filmmaker Greg Poschman was among the first to voice the idea in the upper valley about a month ago.
“This is so exciting,” Poschman said of the concept in a phone interview on May 5. “I have a feeling the community is going to love it.”
While there were, and are still, no concrete details to share, Poschman offered that an overwhelming number of entities have expressed a desire to be involved.
One of those groups is the town of Snowmass Village, Snowmass Tourism director Rose Abello confirmed May 15.
Poschman and Abello both emphasized partnering with and supporting local restaurants and businesses (like TACAW is) as being part of the event.
“Something is going to happen with this,” Abello said last week. She noted her goal to host films in Snowmass Village specifically.
In Aspen, the base of Buttermilk Ski Area — which will play host to Aspen High School’s drive-in graduation ceremony on May 30 — is being eyed as an “obvious” option, Poschman said Wednesday.
Asked about the site’s use for drive-in movies, Aspen Skiing Co. vice president of communications Jeff Hanle said, “Because we’re working to set up that type of facility for the high school graduation, we are exploring the option of keeping that set up in some way so that experience could be offered for others — whether it’s our own programming or programming by other arts nonprofits — whatever it is.”
“That’s about as much as we know right now,” Hanle said.