There is a certain excitement about the lifting of restrictions or what the government calls Phase 2. A bit of a misnomer, yes?
Phase 1 seems to have been a prevention plan and not part of this recovery plan. Phase 1, Phase 2, The Giant Purple Pegasus, call it what you like. It is still a lifting of the restrictions that have kept us all apart for far too long. I don’t know about you but a social distancing, not more than six people (close family is best) BBQ celebration is in order! Yes, there is light at the end of this pandemic-induced tunnel for small gatherings, restaurants, pubs, schools (albeit voluntary attendance), retail stores (including local art supply stores!), theatres and galleries. According to one report, movie theatres are in Phase 3 while it appears live theatres seem to be included in Phase 2. For some, such as Theatre NorthWest, the season is over, and I assume they will be continuing the search for an artistic director.
Here is to the hope we can see Bill, Judy and the family Russell get back to doing what they do best. Things in the theatre may not move as fast as one might assume. Rehearsal halls and rehearsals themselves make it difficult for social distancing, the players become a close-knit family of sorts, there is a bond formed during a production, a closeness that would be difficult to maintain during restrictions. It would certainly be evident during performances.
The production staff need to share tools, they touch the same lights and set pieces, working together in close proximity. The wardrobe fittings, the shared props, and what may be the most consequential, playing to an audience required to distance themselves in the seats. The cast and crew feed off the audience energy. It can be felt by the backstage crew as well. The audience is, after all, why they do what they do.
Galleries are opening again. As I said on my radio shows The Blues Road and The Jazz Café, it was nice seeing new and different art, virtually but there is nothing like being a few feet, even inches away from great art. Large or small, art deserves an audience. I was speaking with Lisa Redpath about the timeframe for opening Studio 2880. Lisa is hoping for a June 1 re-opening. I received a statement from Carolyn Holmes at Two Rivers Gallery that says they are taking a phased approach to the eventual opening of the gallery while relying on the provincial government and BC Museum Association for guidance.
These are still hard times for artists and especially arts groups. Sean Farrell of the Community Arts Council of Prince George and Region has said that there are tough decisions to be made and some consultation with the tenants and users of the facility will need to take place before and decisions can be made around opening the facility for those tenants and user groups. Safety is uppermost in both Sean and Lisa’s minds.
Artrepeneur Kim Hayhurst, who is renovating a space to open The Makerie, is still shooting for a July 1 grand opening. There is no Canada Day in the park this year so, why not head down to the Makerie, in a social distancing sort of way, and help Kim celebrate? What is the Makerie? Check out the Arts North podcast or visit her on Facebook.
Christina Watts, owner of Watts Art Academy, is offering a more personalized shopping experience and feels the pieces are still shifting. The art supply chain is a bit tenuous and the safety of staff and patrons are too important for a full opening today. The situation is fluid.
It will be different for everyone.
The only thing one can depend as a certainty is the return of three-hour parking limit for downtown.
Art will suffer if online displays are the norm – Asia Times
Almost 15 years ago, a group of artists, filmmakers, curators and critics came together at the Oberhausen Film Festival in western Germany to discuss the introduction of a new technological medium: YouTube.
How would watching film and video online differ from regular venues such as cinemas or the Oberhausen festival itself, which played an important role in European art-house cinema?
Would films be meaningful in the same way – watched alone, in poor resolution, on a computer – rather than on the big screen by a community that had come together to see them?
“They’re like photocopies,” said the curator, Stuart Comer. Comer, now chief curator for media and performance at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, argued that while watching videos on YouTube was not the same as watching 35mm film on the big screen, home viewing served a different function, and there was room for both.
It’s interesting to think back to that debate now. Many of the early qualms around online viewership have since been ironed out. The quality of streaming has gotten better. Museums and artists run dedicated channels, instead of the free-for-all of early YouTube days when historical films were often altered – edited, overlaid, given new soundtracks – and passed off as original.
We now know that audiences will watch a film from start to finish. This had been another fear, that without the social contract of buying a ticket and sitting in a cinema space, spectators would dip in and out, catching glimpses rather than following a story.
In 2020, with the Covid-19 lockdown, we are lucky to have YouTube, Netflix, Vimeo and other streaming and sharing platforms, but we should also be grateful that the platforms have been around long enough to generate material made for online consumption.
In most cases, we are now not watching “photocopies” of films transferred to the small screen, but works made for the small screen in the first instance.
It is unclear whether the traditional art world – the one of paintings, installations and sculpture – is now in a transition similar to that of the film industry a decade ago.
Museums are digitizing whole rooms of paintings; commercial galleries and art fairs are hastily constructing online selling platforms; and Google Arts & Culture, a digitization project reaching back to 2011, is being recommended by schools as a lockdown activity.
Will these be seen as photocopies, a temporary fix until the era of social distancing subsides? Or will art organizations, some of which have been buoyed by a stratospheric rise in online audience figures, continue these platforms once lockdowns end?
The answer won’t be driven by fidelity to the experience of seeing work “in the flesh,” but by economics. Museums and galleries will face significant budget shortfalls when they begin to open up, whether because of a curtailment in public funding, reductions in private donations or months of loss of revenue.
Exhibition commitments will come stacked upon one another as postponed shows are folded in among future programing, while works meant to be lent out to one place might be needed elsewhere or back home (or might just be too expensive to ship).
Online exhibitions will most likely persist for some time to fulfill these logistical needs – and they might well continue afterwards as an inexpensive strand of quantifiable audience engagement.
But we shouldn’t be lured into thinking that online engagement is a consequence-free decision. Like most instances of outsourcing to technology, online exhibitions mean job losses: the technicians, the restorers, the authenticators, the shippers, the insurers, the guides and the guards who enable the public showing of precious objects.
These roles support others: the technician might be an emerging artist, the guide a student, while conservators and guards might support families at home. Artworks might be digitizable for those who simply want at look at them, but not for the people who make their living in the trade. The art world hinges on the buying, selling, preserving and showing of material goods.
The economic impact goes beyond the art world. For years the trump card of the arts, when it was making its case for public support, has been its economic multiplier effect. For every £1 spent on the arts by Arts Council England, the government recoups £5 in taxes, the Arts Council found in 2015.
The “Bilbao effect,” pertaining to the economic transformation wrought on the northern Spanish city of Bilbao after Guggenheim Bilbao was established there, has dominated numerous city development strategies in the decades since – including, arguably, that of Abu Dhabi. And the argument continues to be made by international consultants, who show how visitors head to F&B outlets, gift shops and hotels after viewing museum exhibitions –benefits likewise not likely to be recouped digitally.
What the crowd in Oberhausen was concerned about all those years ago was YouTube’s effect on its community of filmmakers, curators and critics. As museums and galleries move to online exhibitions, they need to understand that they are risking much more than the loss of authenticity of experience.
This article was provided by Syndication Bureau, which holds copyright.
Art school in Penticton forced to vacate historic home during pandemic – CBC.ca
A 60-year-old arts school in B.C.’s Okanagan is scrambling to find a new home after the Penticton school district opted not to renew the lease.
The Okanagan School of the Arts says it’s being booted from the historic Shatford Centre in Penticton, B.C., where it’s rented space for community groups and hosted art, music and theatre classes for the past 10 years.
The school has leased the building from Okanagan Skaha School District 67 for the past decade.
The district has asked the school to clear out by June 30 when the lease ends. Kim Palmer, the school’s executive director, says it faces the “enormous task” of emptying the building within weeks.
The school, she said, is filled with valuable and specialized equipment, including pianos, commercial kitchen appliances and art supplies.
“At the moment, we don’t know where it will go,” she said.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of the school in March, eliminating its rental and programming revenue.
The school leased the century-old building for a dollar a year but was responsible for maintenance, utilities and insurance. When discussing the June lease renewal, the arts school asked the district to cover $80,000 in operating costs and keep the site running for the community.
Palmer said, in response, the district told her the lease would not be renewed and to vacate the building by the end of the month.
She said the province’s emergency order protecting small-business tenants from eviction during the pandemic does not apply to the school, given its yearly $1 lease.
Priority is spending on students, district says
School District 67 chair James Palanio said the district can’t afford to keep the school afloat.
The arts school has spent about $2 million on maintenance over the past 10 years but more is needed and the district can’t afford it, he said.
“We just can’t spend anywhere other than on the kids,” Palanio said on CBC’s Daybreak South.
Palanio said the district is not evicting the arts school. He said it failed to provide insurance information in January when the lease renewal came up. The school only submitted its proposal in late May, he said.
“We have our own deadlines to meet as well,” he said.
The district has no plans to sell the building, Palanio said, and will be eyeing future plans for the site in late fall.
Palmer said the arts school is also looking at other locations.
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