The latest attraction closure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG), effective at the end of today’s business hours.
VAG announced late this afternoon it will be closing until further notice. This complete closure of the VAG includes all exhibitions, programs, events, rentals, 1931 Gallery Bistro, Gallery Store, and art rentals and sales.
The upcoming Art Auction Gala slated for May 30 has been postponed.
This adds to the slew of closures, including Science World, Vancouver Public Library, casinos, community and recreational facilities, retail businesses, and ski resorts.
Public health officials are encouraging the practice of social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and flatten the curve in cases to reduce the burden on the healthcare system.
With coronavirus on the rise, the BC Ministry of Health is reminding individuals who attend events and large gatherings to monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. And if you’re not feeling well, they recommend staying home at this time. Also, due to unexpected cancellations, please check the event you plan to attend is still taking place. Keep up with COVID-19 news here.
Taking art online – Sherbrooke Record
When schools first closed on March 13, parents across Quebec were left wondering what they would do with their children at home for the next two weeks. In the time since, the internet has seen the rise of a number of shared creative projects. In the case of local art teacher April Blampied, it was two days before she picked up a camera and started to record activities people could do at home. “At first I was just going to share with my friends to help with fun ideas to do with their children but my son really enjoys watching Youtube videos of kids making their own videos and asked me if we could do the same,” she explained. “That inspired me further to make videos and share them with a larger population to help more families.” Recognizing that not everyone has the same level of expertise with art, the teacher said that she tried to make the activities accessible to a broad audience. “All my art activities are simplified versions of lessons I have given at the high school level,” Blampied shared. “Since I am doing the activities with my children, four and six years old, I geared the level to elementary.” See full story in the Monday, March 30 edition of The Record.
Alan Cross: A look at art and music created in times of pandemic – Global News
The spectre of disease, pandemic, and death have been with us since life emerged on this rock. And once we got around to discovering music, homo sapiens (and perhaps Neanderthals, whose numbers were probably drastically culled by disease), began reacting to these periods of widespread sickness with stories, art, and song.
The first recorded pandemic hit the people of Athens between 429 and 426 BC. No one knew why, other than the gods must have been displeased with mankind.
We still don’t know what caused the death of up to 100,000 — Typhus? Typhoid Fever? Some sort of viral hemorrhagic disease? — but it left an unusual mark on the city. Those were the peak years of Greek tragedy, a form of theatre that had tremendous influence on both ancient Rome in a few centuries and the Renaissance more than a thousand years in the future. From disease came great art.
Speaking of the Renaissance, scholars point to the city of Florence as its birthplace around 1350. The Black Death killed much of the population in 1348 (and maybe as much as 60 per cent of all of Europe between 1331 and 1353) yet Florence rallied, becoming a flashpoint of intellectual and artistic evolution that was felt for centuries.
Meanwhile, the hot musical genre was “pestilential music,” a series of compositions inspired by rampant illness. Some believed that music could be medicine while others were sure that it was a moral poison that made it easier for disease to take hold. God apparently didn’t like popular songs, so anyone singing such ditties could expect to be struck down.
But not everyone felt this way. In the 1500s, an Italian physician named Niccolo Massa prescribed music therapy to prevent getting sick: “It is especially advantageous to listen to songs and lovely instrumental music, and to play now and then, and to sing with a quiet voice.” In other words, stay positive by chilling out with some music.
London, England, was plagued with, er, plagues through much of the 16th century (Henry VIII was forced to self-isolate during the Sweating Sickness of 1529, much in the way we are today) and saw a spike in fatalities in the early 1600s. But as England slowly recovered, Shakespeare was somehow inspired to write King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra, all in 1606. At exactly the same time, composers began to experiment with new musical modalities, resulting in the rise of Baroque music and stars just as Bach, Vivaldi, and Handel.
Fast-forward to the late 1800s to New Orleans, a city that not only served the riverboat traffic from the Mississippi, but also ships coming in from the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and beyond. It was a thriving port, but also one of the most unhealthy. Thanks to the heat, humidity, the swamp, poor hygiene, and the constant turnover of the population, it was a terrible place to live if you were an African-American. On average, a Black man could hope to live to 36 before he was taken by cholera, yellow fever, typhus or influenza. Yet in spite of this, New Orleans was the birthplace of ragtime, which later evolved into jazz, the most important music genre of the first half of the 20th century.
Not all pandemics left behind such magnificent albeit unintended artistic consequences. Some were more subtle.
For example, who doesn’t know the playground song Ring Around the Rosie? Some folklore scholars trace its origins to the Great Plague of 1665 describing a rosy red rash (a plague symptom) and a necklace of herbs designed to ward off disease. But that didn’t help because in the end “we all fall down” and died. (Quick point of clarification: Other historians dispute this interpretation, saying it only appeared after WWII.)
Another rhyme with deadly origins appeared during a worldwide influenza pandemic in 1889-1890. Certain the disease could be stopped by sealing up the home from the poisoned air outside, this safety tip emerged in schools:
There was a little girl, and she had a little bird
And she called it by the pretty name of Enza;
But one day it flew away, but it didn’t go to stay
For when she raised the window, in-flu-Enza
Not exactly Shakespearean, but that little poem endured for decades, especially after the 1918 H1N1 pandemic that killed as many as 100 million people around the world over just 24 months.
When tuberculosis once again became a major problem in the 1920s and 1930s, sickness songs spread like, well, a contagion throughout blues and country performers. Same when polio hit in the late 1940s and early ’50s. And after the Hong Kong flu epidemic of 1968-69 (death toll: one million), certain things became ingrained in our psyche. We certainly otherwise wouldn’t have had a cartoon character like this.
And let’s consider HIV/AIDS for a moment. No other disease of the last several centuries inspired more art, from music and musicals (e.g. Rent) and plays (e.g. Angels in America) to books (The Band Played On) and movies (Philadelphia).
And here we are again facing the worst pandemic since the end of the Great War. We’re all shut-ins as we try to flatten the curve of infections. That includes plenty of musicians who do what musicians do best: explain to the rest of us how we’re feeling.
The last time I checked, there were nearly 500 coronavirus-related songs on Spotify (call it “pandemic pop,”) all of which have been written in the last couple of months. One might become the anthem of our times. Or maybe we’ll have to wait for this enforced isolation to give us a new storyteller.
We will get through this. And who knows what great art COVID-19 will leave behind?
Meanwhile, enjoy this playlist as you give humanity a wide birth.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with Q107 and 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Life mimics art for actors in play about pandemic – Saanich News
As a pair of Victoria-based performers sit on the couch of a rented suite in isolation this week, they can’t help but think of all the similarities they’re seeing in the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Danny Saretsky, 22, and Regina Rios, 23, moved here to study the theatre program at the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Oak Bay. In November, they performed lead roles in the stage production of Unity 1918, a play by Kevin Kerr in which the Spanish flu disrupts the small community of Unity, Sask.
“There’s a lot of similarities,” said Saretsky, who played Stan, a new father who is recovering after his wife died in childbirth. “It’s disturbingly parallel.”
|Performers Danny Saretsky and Regina Rios during a Zoom chat this week. The two starred in Unity 1918, a movie set in the 1918 flu pandemic, and are now finding it a bit uncanny that they are under self-isolation just a few months later. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)|
In particular, it’s society’s reaction to the virus that stands out. The nation was still grieving the 56,638 Canadian military members who died in the First World War. To this day the number of people killed by the Spanish influenza ranges in estimate from 20 to 100 million people worldwide, about 55,000 people in Canada and 650,000 in the U.S.
“[It’s kind of the same as] how people were [recently] exaggerating, ‘Oh, it’s not that bad,’ while others stocked up on toilet paper,” said Rios, who played Sunna, a young Icelandic woman who becomes the town mortician.
Amid the chaos of death, in which there aren’t enough coffins for the dead, Sunna and Stan find romance.
In Unity, as it was back then, things were typically slower. But with the flu, things changed quickly day-to-day.
The schools are closed. Physical contact is forbidden and there is a town curfew.
“Basically, all fun things were canceled then too,” Saretsky said. “The town people were quarreling with one another, not because of illness, but because of fear of illness.”
The actors even played out the same responses we’re seeing now, especially mistrust of people who travelled internationally.
“Even though people sought a human connection, travellers were met with a ‘please get away from me,’ vibe,” Saretsky said.
“They didn’t really understand the flu,” Rios said. “The flu hit Regina [Sask.], so they knew it was coming in, but they didn’t know how it spread, they thought being downwind would spread it. It was being spread with the soldiers coming home from the war.”
There were mass graves and misinformation.
When CCPA last staged Unity 1918 on Dec. 1 there was no sign of a global pandemic unfolding.
The two graduated in February and went their separate ways. Rios joined local troupe Story Theatre and was touring preschools with the show The Very First Circus.
“Of course, going school to school was not ideal, so that was canceled [early],” Rios said.
Saretsky was in the middle of a vacation tour with his father to the United States and Europe.
“We were in Boston when we made the decision to follow recommendations and come home,” Saretsky said.
If it goes ahead as planned, Saretsky is headed to Vancouver this summer to intern at the annual Bard & the Beach Shakespeare Festival in Vancouver.
Now the two are stuck, together at least, in an Airbnb suite, until things change.
“We did jazzercise today, a ‘90s jazzercise funk workout on YouTube,” Saretsky said.
“Support artists if you can, it’s a tough time for all of us,” Rios said.
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