Take a virtual tour of Winspear Opera House’s famed Signature Hallway

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A behind-the-scenes video is a fun example of what D-FW arts organizations are doing to connect with audiences during COVID-19.

By Allison Hatfield

There’s a tradition in theater that calls for performers to sign a wall inside the venue. Backstage at the Winspear Opera House, the Signature Hallway holds hundreds of autographs from the likes of Jane Fonda, Joan Rivers, Billy Crystal, David Byrne, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lyle Lovett, and the full cast and crew of almost every touring Broadway show that has appeared on the Winspear stage.

It includes signatures from Tori Amos and Alec Baldwin, Tony Bennett and Deepak Chopra. Michelle Obama’s signature is protected by plexiglass, along with the cover of her book and notes from attendees of the Young Women’s Leadership Conference, to whom she spoke in 2018. The performers of Peter and the Starcatcher signed a multimedia mural made of paint, cork, rope and other objects.

Last week, on the AT&T Performing Arts Center YouTube channel, as part of its AT&TPAC @Home efforts, Vice President of External Affairs Chris Heinbaugh gave viewers a look at the hallway, which is something theatergoers would otherwise likely never see.

“AT&TPAC @Home has turned into a real springboard for a lot of the stuff we are doing right now at the center,” Heinbaugh says, including virtual dance fitness classes, Disney Musicals in Schools educational programs and Backstage Spotlight technical training classes.

“Whenever possible, the center works with local artists and arts organizations. We hire and pay them for their incredible work,” Heinbaugh says.

And that’s just one way that AT&TPAC is helping the local arts community, which includes scores of organizations that have pivoted to online content to connect with their audiences and patrons. Another has been to increase the frequency of its Culture Calendar email blasts. “We have reimagined this popular listing into a compilation of all the incredibly creative virtual exhibitions, programs and classes being presented by our city’s diverse cultural organizations, Heinbaugh says. “It is an impressive array of talent!”

The email goes to more than 200,000 recipients and includes a huge range of events from organizations large and small, including concerts by Lone Star Wind Orchestra, poolside chats with Texas Ballet Theater’s Ben Stevenson, open mics with Cry Havoc Theater Company and photography exhibits from the Dallas Historical Society. To be added to the list, sign up here.

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