ST. LOUIS ( -- It’s a difficult time for everyone in the performing arts as venues work to adapt and survive during the pandemic.

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra announced Tuesday their fall season will go virtual.

“How many musicians can you put on stage? How do you social distance? How can you enforce the masks and also for the audience?” asked SLSO president and CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard.

Because of the uncertainty and the current state of the pandemic, the fall season will be re-imagined, featuring digital programming. SLSO, the second oldest symphony orchestra in the country said they hope to ease into live concerts as conditions permit.

“We’re very excited to really stretch the boundaries of programming,” said Bernard.

Because of their longevity, Bernard said they are not fearful of the uncertain future. But that’s not the case for smaller theaters like the Gaslight Theater in the Central West End.

“The 99 seat theaters, the small professional theaters like us, could vanish,” fears William Roth, founder of the St. Louis Actors’ Studio.

The stage has remained empty at Gaslight Theater since spring when the COVID-19 forced them to cancel their season.

Roth said he has developed a plan to reopen including reduced capacity and social distancing in the audience but it has not been approved by the Actor’s Equity Association, the union representing stage actors.

“We’re a bunch of things but one thing is we’re a small business but not one that is in line for any sort of relief,” he explained.

That’s why he’s turned to some friends and familiar faces for help. In an effort to help small professional theater companies in St. Louis, Roth has started the Small Professional Theatre Sustainment Fund. By donating to the fund you’ll be entered to win a virtual hangout with actors Jon Hamm, Sterling K. Brown,, Sam McMurray and others.

For every $75 donated to, the participant’s name is placed into a drawing for 50 chances to win. The more a person donates, the better their chances are for winning. The winner will be drawn on September 17.

"It’s a constant battle to get people to understand and fall in love with what we do and you take that away for long enough and this will be a museum not a performance space," said Roth.

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