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Editorial: Keep up the good work on the Plaza

People throng the Plaza, despite clouds and chill, during a warmup act for Beirut last Sunday. (Courtesy of AMP Concerts)

People throng the Plaza, despite clouds and chill, during a warmup act for Beirut last Sunday. (Courtesy of AMP Concerts)

The popular summertime music at the Plaza’s bandstand has always brought out people grooving and dancing to the tunes.

But a couple of recent free concerts have upped the ante and demonstrated what is possible in the heart of Santa Fe.

The Mavericks, brought in along with Texas icon Joe Ely as a gift to the community last month for the Christus St. Vincent 150th anniversary celebration, and this month’s appearance by Beirut, no doubt facilitated by front man Zach Condon’s homeboy connections, brought out crowds of around 3,000 each and counting.

Talk about People to the Plaza. That’s Mayor Javier Gonzales’ initiative to make the Plaza more local-friendly.

Granted, probably a good number of tourists and people driving in from out of town helped fill the Plaza for those free concerts, but the events do show that people will come out with the right incentive.

Sure, it’s tough to bring in big-name musicians for a free concert. Either you have to find someone willing to foot the tab, or you have to find really generous stars willing to play for free, or close to it. Both are big hurdles. But it would be great to see more of that happening here.

The concerts make us wonder, though, whether the entertainment offered on the Plaza could be extended beyond the summer season. Weather often stays relatively cooperative into the early fall and locals would be happy to come out with a suitable attraction.

That definitely is something the city should consider, along with the possibility of other types of entertainment beyond music. It’s tempting to consider Shakespeare on the Plaza or other theatrical events, although something with dialogue may be drowned out by the outdoor atmosphere and the hubbub of people in the area talking rather than paying attention.

Simulcasts of the Santa Fe Opera were popular back in the days they were made available at Fort Marcy and other venues – perhaps recorded operas could be screened outdoors on the Plaza after the season closes for those who couldn’t make it to the live events? Even if it’s a single camera recording the full stage, it would be a nice way to share the presentations with people less able to buy opera tickets.

Some nights might be good to display digital arts and projections on screens or buildings around the Plaza, such as take place during the Santa Fe University of Art and Design’s VisionFest each May or the summer Currents festival in the Railyard.

In any case, everyone involved in bringing those two concerts to the Plaza deserves a big “thank you” and we hope more such events can be planned in the future.