The show goes on(line) at Arts of the Pamlico

Published 6:34 pm Friday, April 10, 2020

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As a mainstay of the arts community in Beaufort County, closing the doors of the Turnage Theatre has presented a number of challenges for Arts of the Pamlico. Though the theater can no longer accommodate gatherings of artists and patrons amidst the spread of COVID-19, the nonprofit is finding new ways to support the arts.

In large part, the new efforts fall under what AOP is calling its “Open Sky Initiative,” which combines online resources and outdoor activities for adults and kids alike.

“Our goal, obviously, is to continue providing access to the arts for our community and to keep people connected,” said AOP Executive Director Debra Torrence.

On Thursday, registration opened for a variety of new online workshops, including readers theater for adults, creative writing for youth, nature art for youth and playwriting for youth. AOP has also made videos for children on nature art that parents can access anytime. More information about these offerings is available by emailing

For music lovers, AOP has also teamed up with the Washington Harbor District Alliance, the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and the Washington Tourism Development Authority to set up a online concerts via the BoCo Music group on Facebook.

The nonprofit has added a new offering to its website in the form of a podcast called “BoCo Town,” which offers updates on AOP programing and interviews with local artist. Four episodes are out so far, and they can be accessed at, or via Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Also coming up next week, AOP Artistic Director Jeffery Phipps will soon host a virtual tour of the nonprofit’s costume shop. That program will discuss the history and art of costuming.

Finally, the organization is looking at new ways to support artists who might be feeling a financial pinch from the virus outbreak. In addition to the AOP podcast, which creates awareness of each artist’s work, AOP is in the process of setting up an online gallery where patrons can view the work of local artists.

“We are going to try that with our Members Show, which was scheduled for May, and may do more of that going forward,” Torrence said. “We have an online artist directory we’re starting to build for our members, and we’ll create a gallery and shop online where people can buy Beaufort County art and art by North Carolina artists on our website.”

Though the theater may be empty for now, work will soon be underway to replace the roof of the historic building, an effort that has been the making since last year. Unfortunately, the organization has also seen a decline in donations since the door closed, but the bills are still coming in.

“It’s been a huge hit,” AOP Board Chairman Roland Wyman said. “We are still pushing ahead with the roof project because we had the majority of the funding in place. We’re pushing ahead based on optimism that we will be turning things back on soon and can resume our fundraising. At the moment, people who might have been donating last week and this week, there’s a pause, a hesitation, and you can’t blame them.”

Nevertheless, donations are still welcome and appreciated. Details on how to give, and more on the Open Sky Initiative, can be found online at or on Facebook @AOPTurnageTheatre.