By Jacob Hoheisel
With public gatherings being shut-down due to social distancing measures and public health concerns, some artists have turned to livestreaming free performances to their audiences.
Theatre and music venues around the city have shut down as COVID-19 infections escalate in Metro Vancouver, and public health warnings call for people to avoid large gatherings of more than 50 people as of March 24.
However, some performing artists across Canada are getting creative in their attempts to showcase their art and keep the country’s morale up amid the shutdown.
Neil Middleton, VP marketing and sales for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, said that after closing their doors on March 12, the team “quickly regrouped.” They took the decision to livestream their final concert of BeethovenFest on March 15 and cap the celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven.
“The team kicked into high gear,” Middleton said. “We launched the livestream and we had over 50,000 people tune in from around the world.”
Nick Green, a playwright from Toronto, whose theatre production was cancelled, said he was left feeling “quite worried about the state of artists in Canada.”
Green created a website called The Social Distancing Festival, for artists around the world to submit and showcase their work that got cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19. The website also directs people to livestreaming events from artists around the world.
Andy Schichter, co-owner of Park Sound Studio in North Vancouver, has also turned to livestreaming and showcasing local performing artists to make up for the shutdown of public venues and concerts.
“My friend Megan called me and said ‘I have this great idea,’” he said. “We started to work on it immediately.”
The pair started a fundraiser to aid local musicians impacted by COVID-19 cancellations.
“All of them have had shows and tours cancelled, day job hours drastically cut back, and ultimately a severe loss in income,” Schichter said. “Our goal is to help them out during these hard times.”
The event was livestreamed on Instagram last Saturday. Sixteen local musicians performed 10-minute sets from either their homes or private studios. Schichter said they plan to keep doing this, either on Instagram or other streaming platforms, on a weekly basis as long as the COVID-19 situation continues.
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