A crew installing the bandstand cover on the new Pavilion on the LA campus. The stage and bandstand structure is a collaboration between LA and Heartwood Theater, and will offer an outdoor venue for graduation events and student performances this spring and summer.

After a year without live performance, Lincoln Academy is ready for a change.

“It has been a tough year for the performing arts,” said Lincoln Academy Theater Director Griff Braley. “Students have languished a bit, and I felt strongly that we needed to find an outlet before this year ended.”

Braley designed a bandstand structure now being installed on the track field of the LA campus for outdoor musical performances, theater, and graduation events this spring and beyond.

The LA maintenance staff built the stage from 30 four-foot by eight-foot platforms that lock together to create a portable but sturdy stage that is 40 wide by 24 deep, the same size as the stage in the Poe Theater, according to Braley.

Rounded pipes will serve as the upright structure for the performing arts pavilion. These will be covered with tarps when complete.

Rounded pipes will serve as the upright structure for the performing arts pavilion. These will be covered with tarps when complete.

On Monday, May 3 a crew began installing a bandstand cover that will help with the acoustical challenges of performing outdoors.

“The design for the Pavilion gives some protection from weather, allows sound and lighting systems to remain in place for classes and performances, and creates a bit of a “beacon on the hill” feeling,” said Braley. “We hope it will create a nice outside environment for many kinds of student-to-audience interactions. Practically speaking, the Pavilion allows students to play together, even when they don’t have an audience.”

The bandstand cover is a metal-and-tarp structure often used in agricultural and sports-related venues. More recently the company has been providing them to schools as outdoor classrooms, according to Braley. The arched top has open ends and roll up sides for added ventilation. Braley’s plan allows for lighting inside the shell and on the lawn around it for performances that continue beyond sunset.

The construction of the Pavilion has been made possible by the ongoing collaboration between LA and Heartwood Regional Theater Company, who secured gifts totalling $8,000 from various anonymous donors “with a shared belief that the Pavilion will be beneficial to both Lincoln Academy and the local arts,” according to Braley, who also serves as the Artistic Director at Heartwood. “This would not be possible without the partnership between LA, Heartwood, students, audiences, and generous donors who support the arts year after year.”

The Pavilion will be completed by May 7, and will be used for end-of-year performances by the LA bands and choir, as well as a series of short plays that will be produced throughout the last three weeks of May. The space will be used for some in-person graduation week events (though Commencement itself will be held at the Augusta Civic Center). After school ends, the Pavilion will host summer programs, including Heartwood’s summer camp for students, and summer theater productions.

“The LA performing arts programs have a long history of excellence,” said Head of School Jeffrey Burroughs. “And while our performing arts teachers have been incredibly innovative this year in helping students continue to learn and rehearse, we have missed those opportunities to perform. We are grateful to Griff for his vision to bring back live performances before the end of this challenging year. I know I am looking forward to seeing students on stage again.”

With the ever-changing COVID landscape, it is not clear how many spectators the venue can accommodate, but at the very least students will be able to rehearse and perform before the end of the school year.

“With the instability of the last year, the arts can continue to provide focus, challenges, and community,” said Braley. “We are excited to evolve one more time this spring, in order to continue to teach and learn. Nothing stirs an audience quite like live performance, and the Pavilion gives us that opportunity for the first time since mid-March 2020.”