A summer highlight has been Pop Up Opera, featuring POV singers sharing 10 minutes of beautiful music in neighbourhoods, on street corners, in parks and outside retirement residences and care facilities. Jo-Ann Richards photo.

A summer highlight has been Pop Up Opera, featuring POV singers sharing 10 minutes of beautiful music in neighbourhoods, on street corners, in parks and outside retirement residences and care facilities. Jo-Ann Richards photo.

Celebrating the arts – and audiences – at a distance

How you can help organizations pivoting to maintain a thriving arts community

While COVID-19 quickly altered our community on many levels, Greater Victoria’s arts organizations have been some of the most seriously impacted.

With performances and events cancelled, and long-planned major fundraisers postponed until safer times, not only did our local artists lose their live audiences, but also their revenue stream. Compounding matters, arts organizations didn’t qualify for support from emergency programs such as the Victoria Foundation-held Rapid Relief Fund, which provided urgent funding for those working in areas such as housing, food security and mental health supports.

But as this “new normal” evolved, the ability of arts organizations to pivot helped put a little spring into our spring and summer, not only for their performers, but for us – their audience.

Having to cancel its live performances, Ballet Victoria is finding new ways to connect with audiences. A recent short film collaboration with co-producers Jon O’Riordan and Frances Litman, funded in part by Gail O’Riordan Memorial Fund for Music & Performing Arts held at the Victoria Foundation, focuses on the beauty and importance of urban forest. Completed, but not yet released, Awaken is all original, with music by Ann Mortifee and dance from Ballet Victoria.

Another recent video showcases the company’s dancers, performing in isolation to Tal Bachman’s She’s So High.

“Ballet Victoria is missing you all. Our passion and hunger to dance and to share our art is still there, so we put together a little video for you with a few surprises. Tal Bachman is accompanying us in an unbridled social ‘distdance!’ Let’s take care of each other, be safe, be well and keep in touch.”

While Pacific Opera Victoria is moving its planned performances of Carmen, Death in Venice and Don Giovanni to a time when audiences can once again gather safely, that doesn’t mean music lovers must do without opera!

Promising to find “new ways to invest in creativity, share it with you, and support the artists whose livelihoods depend on it,” POV has crafted a variety of new ways to connect, including Opera Etc. Online – free programming providing opportunities to listen, learn and laugh during Acoustic Afternoons, Inside Opera, Handwashing Arias and more.

A highlight of summer has been Pop Up Opera, featuring POV singers performing in public spaces throughout the region, sharing 10 minutes of beautiful music in neighbourhoods, on street corners, in parks and outside retirement residences and care facilities.

You can also check out The Flight of the Hummingbird, including a video of this enchanting opera, online learning activities and interviews with the creators, and watch for more innovative ideas coming up this fall!

Training the next generation of performers, Canadian College of the Performing Arts quickly pivoted in early spring to complete the term with virtual classes, and adapting their planned year-end live performance of Newsies into a video performance created with 51 students who by then were isolating in their homes.

Today, as the school prepares to return to in-person learning this fall, it’s creating a new expanded space to allow safe physical distancing for students.

How you can help

“Through Victoria’s Vital Signs, our survey respondents regularly share how important the arts are to the region – recognizing the strengths of our vibrant arts community and its diverse offerings,” reflects Victoria Foundation CEO Sandra Richardson. “It’s exciting to see the innovation these groups are sharing during these challenging times, and we encourage audiences to find ways to show support, with the arts organizations directly or through one of the Foundation’s funds, which support charities working in 12 essential issue areas, including the arts.”

Learn more at victoriafoundation.ca

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