The Freeman Stage 2020 Season: Perfectly adjusted to pandemic obstacles

Smaller audiences, local acts and children's programming with the same standards of excellence


The 2020 Freeman Stage Season will be coming to an end in two weeks. The last performance is scheduled for Saturday, September 12 (Tusk: The World’s #1 Tribute to Fleetwood Mac).

The COVID-19 pandemic required The Freeman Stage to right-size and re-imagine the way they fulfill their mission this year. After putting their performing arts season on hold for several months, they found a path forward to offer a safe and socially responsible experience for people to enjoy the arts in their backyard. In addition to establishing a “seating pod” system, which can accommodate up to four guests in a round space with six feet of separation, they also transformed their venue into a contactless and cashless operation for the comfort and safety of their patrons. They have successfully presented 3 – 4 shows per week — including a free Young Audience show each Saturday morning — since early July.

New this year was “The Art of Yoga” (in partnership with Soulfire Collective, a yoga studio in Rehoboth Beach). This initiative was very successful and their 3 sessions were sold out. Due to such popular demand, they will be partnering with Soulfire for an “encore” performance on September 9.

Annually, more than 80,000 residents and visitors are impacted through their mission of creating opportunities that elevate the human spirit. However, this special season of the arts in 2020 saw them right-sizing their overall seating capacity to roughly 15% of that in a typical season, due to public health considerations. The decision to move forward with this smaller season was made after careful deliberation by their management team and Board of Directors. In moving forward, they not only provided some much-needed respite and entertainment to the patrons who chose to come out to a show, but they also provided the bands and artists that they hosted this year with the chance to perform, in some cases for the first time since March. We had an outpouring of gratitude from both the audience and the performers who were given the opportunity to do what they love. They will draw on the experiences of this season to continue their planning for 2021, and stay flexible to accommodate whatever public health concerns may be present.

The Freeman Stage is a program of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation (JMFF), a 501(c)3 nonprofit founded in 2007. Their initiatives include our open-air performing arts venue in Selbyville, DE (a few miles north of Fenwick Island) where they present over 60 performances a year, including national recording artists, community theater, tribute bands and local/regional acts. In addition, their Arts Access Initiative provides K-12 students and under-served families of Delmarva year-round access to high-quality, diverse arts experiences at no cost.

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