Arts Groups Embrace E-vents Under Prolonged Social Distancing

Rather than cancel events and programming because of pandemic restrictions, arts groups throughout the Lower Hudson Valley are moving more of their programing online to stay engaged with audiences and donors.

In Westchester County, ArtsWestchester has led the migration to online e-vents with programs catering to teens and adults. So far ArtsWestchester’s efforts include:

  • The 2020 Lawrence Salley Photography Award Virtual Exhibition featuring the work of nine contemporary photographers.
  • A weekly roundup of 5 top Virtual Arts Happenings in Westchester is featured in ArtseNews and delivered to more than 13,000 in-boxes.
  • A May 15 Paraguayan Arts & Culture Festival hosted on YouTube. The festival will be a celebration made up of a compilation of short videos featuring immigrant artists demonstrating their art, along with an interpretation of that tradition for a general audience.
  • ArtsMobile virtual art workshops presented by teaching artists are offered on ArtsWestchester’s website.
  • Teen Tuesdays & Thursdays has migrated to YouTube, where youth can follow free virtual art workshops with the goal of creating an original work of art by the end of the video.
  • The annual Arts Award Luncheon will go virtual this year on Tuesday, June 30th and will celebrate the seven Arts Award Winners simulcast on Facebook and YouTube.
  • ArtsWestchester also provides Virtual Arts Workshops created with professional artists for the Westchester County Department of Health.

Janet T. Langsam, CEO of ArtsWestchester explains, “The show must go on may be a cliché, but during our ongoing health crisis it’s a call to arms. Now, more than ever, our neighbors who are socially isolated in their homes for safety need access to creative resources to alleviate cabin fever and all the stress wrought by the coronavirus. Our cultural partners throughout the region are providing a mental safety valve for many people who are craving the joy, connection and psychological release that the arts provide.”

ArtsWestchester isn’t alone in the migration to online platforms.

Bedford Playhouse’s Virtual Playhouse offers interactive experiences, connectivity and conversations just like the ones that formerly happened at the Playhouse. Their e-vents include the transformation of some of their most popular series, like Trivia Night, Classic Tuesdays and Author! Author! into virtual formats for all to enjoy. There’s even a new series picking up steam called “A Day In The Life” – with an exciting group of upcoming guests.

“It was a tricky transition at first but we’ve really enjoyed seeing the online migration of our dedicated community. Turns out an exciting event is still an exciting event – even if it’s on a screen right in front of you. Zoom has been a very useful platform for us to expand through – it’s allowed us not only to connect guests to our entertainment – but also to each other, which feels really good for everyone.” – Lindsay Hearon, Director of Marketing and Communications

Pelham Art Center has organized free and affordable online programs hosted on Zoom that provide financial support for the center and participating artists. Their virtual studio visits invite guests to tour artists’ studios and learn about their work. Free online art lectures and multiple drawing workshops for adults ($20 for 90 minutes) and youth workshops ($10 for 60 minutes) are offered each week.

“Art is a powerful tool that can uplift, comfort, and give new perspectives, especially now,” said Charlotte Mouquin, executive director of the Pelham Art Center. “During this time we need creativity to restore ourselves as individuals and communities. Pelham Art Center looks forward to re-opening in the future. In the meantime please keep creating, stay inspired, learn something new, and join us for a virtual program.”

Arts groups and artists are using a variety of meeting, streaming and ticketing platforms to keep audiences and donors engaged. The platforms include Facebook, YouTube, Zoom, Twitch and Eventbrite, among others. Many of these platforms allow e-vent organizers to receive payments through donations, tips or ticket sales.

Even after social distancing is no longer required, Langsam predicts that local arts groups’ e-vents will continue, even if an event has a live audience.

“We’re going to see increased participation by people who prior to social distancing could not attend our events because they were home-bound, too far away or unable to find transportation,” said Langsam.

People interested in the virtual events being presented by Westchester arts groups can receive weekly news of online happenings by signing up for ArtseNews here: artsw.org/subscribe

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