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Honolulu Event Venues Find New Uses Amid COVID-19 Restrictions

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Robert.Allen
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CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

One area Honolulu city government has tightly controlled through the pandemic is events — and that includes event venues.

Restrictions throughout the pandemic may have squashed events large and small, but that doesn’t mean that Mary Lewis, administrator of the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Enterprise Serves Events, hasn’t been busy.

Lewis oversees promotions and productions at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center and the Waikiki Shell.

Through the past year and a half, she has helped reimagine the Blaisdell complex to serve such functions as a temporary rental car storage area, a soundstage for a Sony Pictures television series, a remote workspace for the City and County of Honolulu’s Office of Economic Revitalization and even as a vaccination center.

Some of these activities produced revenue, some didn’t, but either way, her office has been able to continue paying its full-time employees.

At the open-air Waikiki Shell, concerts came back with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra’s summer concert series, which began this past May.

The downtime for the facilities has been helpful in catching up on maintenance and improvements.

While an expensive and extensive makeover for the Blaisdell complex from previous Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration had been scrapped, work has proceeded on repairs to the stage, sound system, lights and back-of-house facilities for the Concert Hall.

Other improvements are still to come, including equipping the 22-acre campus with Wi-Fi. These projects are funded in part by a $3 million federal Shuttered Venue Operators Grant.

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