The Savannah Philharmonic’s latest installment of Phil the Squares with Music attracted a really nice crowd to Chippewa Square last Saturday.
It was a crowd, but not crowded.
The 100-plus attendees wore masks and spread themselves out across the western half of the square to hear the quartet performing on the porch of The Parker Companies on the southwest trust lot. Passing cars and tour buses were not nearly as disruptive as I expected.
The concert was live-streamed on the nonprofit’s Facebook page, with written commentary from Music & Artistic Director Keitaro Harada.
On the way home after the Philharmonic performance on Saturday, friends and I wandered through Forsyth Park, which was buzzing with activity in every corner. Many folks were simply relaxing as the unseasonably warm afternoon entered its final hour, while others were walking, jogging or playing sports.
Savannahians typically start holding events indoors at this time of year, but even in the best-case scenario the pandemic is going to be around for many more weeks.
It is clear that we could be doing more at a civic level to encourage safe outdoor gatherings.
Yes, we are bound to get some cooler weather eventually, but we should still be looking at offerings like Phil the Squares with Music and Savannah State University’s recent outdoor production of "Oba Oedipus" as templates for the next several months.
The City of Savannah is not currently issuing event permits, but we have some gracious public spaces that can accommodate well-planned outdoor gatherings. City officials need to create more opportunities for outdoor events just like they did months ago for restaurants.
The Savannah College of Art and Design’s Gryphon Tea Room and the adjacent café Art’s recently reopened with a lovely outdoor area on Bull Street.
They join a number of other restaurants that have taken advantage of the city’s relaxation of restrictions on the use of sidewalks, tree lawns and on-street parking spaces.
The loss of a few parking spots here and there seems a small price to pay for the more vibrant street activity and the support for the hard-hit restaurant sector.
We need to bring a similar flexibility to the programming of various cultural events.
After so many months of quarantines and precautions, folks are going to get together one way or another, especially as we enter the holiday season. so we need to create the safest chances we can.
Bill Dawers writes the City Talk column for the Savannah Morning News. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org and @billdawers on Twitter.