With most of Georgia’s pandemic restrictions lifted by the governor and the accelerated rollout of vaccines, in-person arts events are slowly returning to local communities after a year of streaming and shutdowns. 

Some are coming back with a bang, like Sandy Springs’ decision to throw all COVID-19 precautions to the wind for an outdoor concert series. But many local organizations are proceeding with pandemic caution. And by and large, they aren’t coming back as fast as some of the bigger, wealthier institutions in Atlanta, like State Farm Arena and the Alliance Theatre, which are returning this month with outdoor shows or occupancy limits. 

For updates and more events, see our Rough Draft Atlanta calendar at calendar.roughdraftatlanta.com.


Chastain Park and Dunwoody art festivals

The Dunwoody Art Festival, from Splash Festivals, returns May 8-9 in a new location at Brook Run Park. Mask-wearing and social-distancing will be in place. For those uncomfortable with possible COVID-19 risks, many vendors will be available online also. Info: splashfestivals.com.

The Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces is restarting its slate of festivals beginning with the Chastain Park Spring Arts & Crafts Festival on May 15-16. It also aims to bring back the Sandy Springs Artsapalooza in September. Info: affps.com

Cha Wa is among the bands coming to the “City Green Live” series at City Springs. (Special)

City Green Live

This free outdoor concert series, held by the city of Sandy Springs at its City Springs civic center, raised eyebrows with the decision to open with a no-masks, no-distancing policy for its April 30 kickoff with Drivin’ N Cryin’, scheduled for April 30. Other shows in the series are: Cha Wa (May 14); Old Salt Union (May 28); Uptown Funk (June 11); Randall Bramblett & the Megablasters (June 25); Tribute (July 23). Info: citysprings.com.

Concerts by the Springs

Another free concert series from the city of Sandy Springs, this one held at the Heritage Amphitheatre on Blue Stone Road. Shows include: Super Deluxe (May 9); Bumpin’ the Mango (June 20); 7 Sharp 9 (July 11); Head Games (Aug. 8); Hot Licks & Rhetoric (Sept. 12). Info: citysprings.com.

City Springs Theatre Company

This homegrown Sandy Springs professional theater company returns with a performance of “Mamma Mia!” May 7-9. But instead of its home venue at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, CSTC is heading outdoors to the Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta. CSTC has announced a summer show as well — “West Side Story” for July 9-18 — but has not yet determined where that will be staged as the Performing Arts Center’s status remains unclear. Info: CitySpringsTheatre.com.

Alicia Keys is among the musicians coming to Chastain Park’s Cadence Bank Amphitheatre on rescheduled tours. (Special)

Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park

The Buckhead venue is starting to bring in some of 2020’s rescheduled shows this summer, starting with Anthony Hamilton (July 3); Alicia Keys (July 29); and Wilco and Sleater-Kinney (Aug. 14). Info: livenation.com.

Other clubs and halls

Some local clubs and halls have already begun holding shows with pandemic precautions and a much lighter schedule than usual. They include the Buckhead Theatre (thebuckheadtheatreatl.com), the Sandy Springs jazz club Cafe 290 (cafe290atlanta.com), and the Punchline Comedy Club in Buckhead (punchline.com). 


Some other local venues are keeping events largely virtual for now while seeing where the pandemic goes. 

The Atlanta History Center in Buckhead is open for visitors with pandemic precautions and limited capacity, but its large slate of author talks and other programs remain free Zoom programs. As part of a national “Go Public Gardens Days” this month, the museum will welcome the public into its gardens and hold an event called “Mimosas for Moms.” Info: atlantahistorycenter.com.

Local theater groups continue to seek a way forward. Sandy Springs’ Act3 Productions (act3productions.org) intends to film a play on its stage and stream it in August as a fundraiser, with hopes of holding in-person theater in late fall. Dunwoody’s Stage Door Players (stagedoorplayers.org) aims to hold some performances in Brook Run Park this summer and hopes to have a return to indoor shows in July or August. 

–Collin Kelley contributed

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.