Jonesboro, Ark. (April 23, 2020) – At a time when live events involving large gatherings have all been cancelled, Ritter Communications has found an innovative way to turn shutdowns into a showcase streamed concert series.
Starting this Saturday, April 25th, Ritter Communications will introduce NEA ONSTAGE: Live at the Forum. This unique online entertainment event has united several organizations and musical artists and performers adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Tubetown is Ritter’s local content channel that normally provides exclusive coverage of Northeast Arkansas and West Tennessee high school sports, as well as other community events and festivals. But with schools out, there are no baseball games or other spring sports for the Tubetown production team to film and broadcast.
Likewise, local singers and bands are normally drawing crowds and applause in Jonesboro’s vibrant nightlife scene, but with restaurants and events closed down, they’ve lost their venues, gigs, audiences — and livelihood.
The Foundation of Arts (FOA), northeast Arkansas’s premier arts and theater organization, is wholly dependent on live performances and arts classes specifically designed to draw hundreds of people together at The Forum and its neighboring Arts Center. Without crowds, the FOA’s regular programming can’t function.
The social isolation measures to slow the spread of Covid-19 have brought great challenges for each group, and that’s when an idea was born.
“We wanted to help the musicians, and thought producing and streaming performances of these local artists at The Forum could help provide some income and keep them connected with their fans and audiences during this downtime,” said Alan Morse, Chief Executive Officer of Ritter Communications. “Our Tubetown crew, working with the staff at the Foundation of Arts, has created some stunning production-quality shows that I think are really something to see.”
To date some half-dozen acts have been recorded, and the airings will begin this Saturday, April 25, on both social media and the Tubetown channel. The debut performance features The Voice contestant Corey Jackson, and his performance will be streamed at 8 pm to the Facebook pages of Ritter Communications and the Foundations of Arts, on Tubetown’s YouTube page, and on Cable Channel 21 for Ritter subscribers.
“We hope many people in Northeast Arkansas who have been missing the opportunity to see their favorite musical artists performing live will tune in on social media or cable to watch,” Morse said. “The talent we have in this area is phenomenal…and many people have worked hard to make it ‘must-see TV'", he said.
The list of local musicians recorded for NEA ONSTAGE: Live at the Forum so far, and their scheduled air dates (all shows start at 8 pm), include:
- Cory Jackson, Saturday April 25
- Vikki McGee & Sonny Campbell, Tuesday April 28
- The Mathis Family, Saturday May 2
- Los Continentals, Tuesday May 5
- Tony Spinner, Saturday May 9
- Marybeth Byrd: Tuesday May 12
More performances are being recorded this week and will be added to the broadcast schedule in the next few days.
“This is a truly shining example of local unity in building something brand new for the benefit of the broader community,” said Kristi Pulliam, executive director of the Foundation of Arts. “Ritter’s slogan is Right by You, and our new one is Keeping HeARTS Strong, and that’s the perfect combination to describe how this all has come together to assist local artists, maximize an otherwise dark stage, and create a new, right thing that socially isolated audiences will really enjoy.”
Recordings are continuing, and NEA ONSTAGE: Live at the Forum hopes to eventually broadcast as many as 15-to-18 different performances of local musicians.
About Ritter Communications
Ritter Communications, headquartered in Jonesboro, Arkansas, began providing local phone service in 1906. Today, Ritter Communications serves 92 communities and more than 45,000 customers across Arkansas, southeast Missouri and west Tennessee. The company has grown steadily over the years, expanding rapidly since 2010 and is now the largest privately-held regional broadband fiber, telecom, video and cloud services provider in the Mid-South. Ritter invests heavily in the communities it serves by deploying proven, best-in-class infrastructure and technology, while coupling it with a world-class customer focused experience. For more information visit www.rittercommunications.com.
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