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Okanagan arts organizations struggling to survive coronavirus pandemic – Global News

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It’s the one time that the show must not go on, and because of that, the coronavirus pandemic is having a significant economic impact on Okanagan arts groups.

From cancelled art classes to postponed theatre productions, arts organizations are doing their part to flatten the curve, but they’re feeling the financial impact of the pandemic.

“It’s a 100 per cent revenue loss, so it is pretty devastating,” Vernon Community Arts Centre spokesperson Sheri Kunzli said.


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“From a business standpoint, it’s just a huge financial loss,” she said. “Like a lot of the arts and culture groups out there, we are a non-profit, so coming back from this is going to be a lot of work.”






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Parade of recycling, garbage trucks for Okanagan youth


Parade of recycling, garbage trucks for Okanagan youth

There has been some government support and organizations are searching out grants to help them through the pandemic, but some arts organizations say when they reopen their operations will likely be different.

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“It might be in a reduced fashion because we may not be able to do everything that we were doing all at once,” said Susan Brandoli, a spokesperson for Caetani Cultural Centre.


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However, not every business or organization will survive.

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Armstrong Dance Academy owner Susan Bensmiller said that she’s making the difficult decision to close for good because she’s concerned that after COVID-19, people will not have the same disposable income to spend on creative pursuits.

The dance studio had been open for 14 years.


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“We were looking at a good five to six months of paying overhead without any income and potentially having to refund people,” Bensmiller said.

“It was just number crunching. I could afford to do the refunds, but I couldn’t afford to do both,” she added.

“When we work in the arts, what you do and who you are, are one,” Bensmiller said. “And so when you are impacted with what you do, it’s brutal.”


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Meanwhile, arts organizations that plan to continue long-term are finding creative ways to take art online, like planning virtual events or releasing tutorial videos.

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“For people that have that equipment at home, they can follow along or for others it is just going to be some inspiration,” Kunzli said.

–with files from Megan Turcato

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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'Gerryfest' to celebrate Gerry Atwell's music and art, but also his advocacy against systemic racism – CBC.ca

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A festival celebrating the life of the late Gerry Atwell is taking place in Winnipeg next month — but the night will be about more than just music and art.

Atwell, a Juno Award-winning musician known for playing the keyboard for the Winnipeg band Eagle and Hawk, died after suffering a heart attack in late November 2019.

Family and friends knew they would celebrate his life with a music festival this summer. But with people in North America demanding change once again, a key part of the daylong festival will be focused toward the fight against systemic racism — a cause Atwell long advocated for.

“We’re all missing his humanity when it comes to these types of issues,” said Judy Williams, Atwell’s sister.

“He always had a different message for the different audiences he might have been speaking with,” she said, and were he alive now, he would say “something profound, but something that would be inclusive, whether he was going to encourage someone to take some action, or think of other people.”

Atwell also would see the positive opportunities that will come through the conversations being had, added Louise May, executive director of the St. Norbert Arts Centre, where she worked with Atwell for about 25 years.

“Even though it’s coming from such negativity and such a negative event, there is so much hope through it, and so much burgeoning awareness, and ability to talk about it and ability for people to confront themselves with it,” said May.

On Black History Month, musician Joe Curtis celebrates the memory of Gerry Atwell and his mother Frances, who was one of the first black pharmacists in Manitoba. 2:25

“It’s a very, very hopeful time and I know Gerry would be pushing us to see that hope and to really manifest it.”

Gerryfest will take place on Aug. 14 — Atwell’s birthday — at the St. Norbert Arts Centre. Both Williams and May said they felt his presence during the process of organizing the event.

“Even the term ‘Gerryfest’ was Gerry’s idea,” said May. “It was something that we talked about many times, kind of in a joking way. But I knew he always wanted to really do it, which was to have a day when all of his bands played back-to-back-to-back-to-back.

“To which I always said, ‘Gerry, what, you’re going to play for seven, eight hours in one row?'” she said. “That was going to be the very best day that he could imagine for himself.”

Although Atwell won’t be there in person, his presence will be there through former bandmates and other lives he touched, May said.

The planning of Gerryfest started before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Manitoba. So the original plan of a weekend festival has been whittled down to an afternoon and evening of music and art dedicated to Atwell.

If he were still alive today, Atwell’s sister says he would be joining the fight against systemic racism, using words that are profound but also inclusive. (Submitted by Carla Williams)

“I really think we can just keep his work alive and keep building on it year after year with this,” said May, adding that this will be the first of an annual festival.

The festival will also raise funds for the Gerry Atwell Memorial Mentorship Fund, an endowment fund that will have musicians and artists mentoring young people, just like Atwell once did, said Williams.

An invitation is needed to attend the event at the St. Norbert Arts Centre, but people can tune in through livestreams online, said May.

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Window shopping: Whyte Avenue Art Walk shifts from sidewalks to storefronts for 25th anniversary – Edmonton Journal

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“More than ever, it’s important for people to continue supporting artists,” said Zhelisko, who also teaches art classes at The Paint Spot. “I’ve had to put more effort into social media and promoting my work online, but I think the pandemic has shown people what’s really important. I’ve had some commissions from people who want portraits of family members or friends as a way to recognize them.”

First-time Art Walk participant Shelly Banks also works at The Paint Spot and specializes in oil, producing vivid nature and wildlife images that will be featured in the shop’s storefront.

“I’ve always been into art, but working at The Paint Spot and spending so much time around artists encouraged me to give it a try,” said Banks, regarding her decision to take up painting five years ago, producing watercolour, acrylic and coloured pencil art before settling on oil as her preferred method.

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Penticton Art Gallery hosts first Bob Ross exhibit in Canada – Globalnews.ca

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It’s the first time Bob Ross’ happy little exhibit has crossed the border to Canada, and it’s nestled itself right in the South Okanagan at the Penticton Art Gallery.

“There is something magical when you see them in the flesh. There is a greater level of skill than maybe you would believe when see them on TV,” said Paul Crawford, Penticton Art Gallery curator, of the exhibit.

Bob Ross’ TV show, which taught viewers how to paint with soothing words of encouragement and first aired 37 years ago, is seeing a resurgence in popularity online.

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During the lockdown, people have been making the most out of their downtime by picking up paintbrushes and are learning how to ’embrace happy little accidents.’

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The exhibit pulls back the curtain on a little TV magic by revealing that there were actually three versions of each Bob Ross painting.

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“He’d have that first painting that no one would ever see, then there was the one he would do live half an hour on TV before your eyes,” said Crawford.

“Then he would do a third version which they would do if they missed a shot or for close-ups during the live taping.”

As Bob Ross said, “The secret to doing anything is believing you can do it.”

The exhibit will be open until Sept. 13.






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‘It’s given me dreams that come to life’: Penticton artist uses studio as creative community hub


‘It’s given me dreams that come to life’: Penticton artist uses studio as creative community hub

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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