If there is one industry that has been hit hardest by COVID, it’s the arts. Everything from live concerts to art exhibits to Broadway shows have been mostly shut down since the pandemic began, with seemingly few options other than the occasional virtual gallery or Zoom-based live performance to tide us over.
And the absence of a tangible form of the arts not only affects the artists, it affects everyone. It affects the children who might have spent a day in a fun museum or marveling at the musicians marching by in a parade. It affects the everyday working adults who look to the arts to give them that push of inspiration in order to make it through another day.
The arts provide the color in an otherwise gray world, and for a while, it has felt like those colors might not come back.
But if there is any group of people that can find a way around a situation like this, it’s the arts community. After all, their entire existence is literally fueled by creativity. And that creativity has been the force behind Cruise: An Artistic Drive Thru Experience, which comes to The Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University in Atlantic City from Friday, March 19, to Monday, April 5.
Cruise combines a variety of visual and sonic elements and presents them in a drive-thru format, all contained within the four levels of the Arts Garage. Guests can expect to see everything from paintings to lasers to live performances from DJs and Broadway singers to a room filled with thousands of bubbles.
“I wanted to make sure that kids were still getting out and could see live performances and art right now,” says Antoinette DiPietropolo, who created the concept along with Charles Ford.
DiPietropolo and Ford come from arts backgrounds, both visual and performing, and when COVID brought the arts community to a grinding halt, the two put their heads together to find a way to help raise money for those in need while bringing an exciting artistic concept that both adults and kids could enjoy together. A portion of the ticket sales for Cruise go to various schools, art programs, artists and performers.
There are two versions of the Cruise experience — one that runs 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and another from 7 to 11 p.m.
“The day show is geared toward kids, teens and parents together, while the night show is more geared toward parents and those who enjoy nightlife,” DiPietropolo explains. Each will be a musical and visual journey that will dazzle the senses, with the night show having the adding element of a laser light show.
Schools throughout Atlantic City have come together to take part in a group art project focused on origami, which will be part of the Cruise experience as well.
“We managed to get a total of 25 local schools to take part in this art project. I can’t wait for people to see it. It’s going to be incredible,” DiPietropolo says.
In order to see it – or any of the art at Cruise – you need to be in a car. And that in itself helps create the journey, as each person in each vehicle will notice different details that go by as they ride through, making the experience unique for everyone. And because patrons are all naturally separated by their own cars, social distancing throughout the event is automatic. Cruise is a natural fit for the COVID era, offering a song in the midst of silence and bright spot of color in a moment of darkness.
“I think people have to remember that you can turn to the arts for healing. When you hear that song you love, you get this surge of joy and it changes your mood. Or when a kid sees an art exhibit and goes home to try some origami of their own – that makes them progress and think and learn something new. It’s all really valuable and important,” DiPietropolo says.