By John Swartz
The first sidewalk sale of the year usually held at the end of May is cancelled. Starry Night as we’ve known it is not happening this year (but the group is trying to come up with something different on a smaller scale). And now, we find out the annual Rotary/Lions Funfest event held every year on the Civic Holiday weekend is cancelled for the first time in 74 years.
I participated in a conference call with 20 other representatives of arts groups two weeks ago and most are coming to the realization even if we all get to go back to work at some point, the artists, musicians particularly, will not be able to and events of any size will not happen at least for the balance of this year.
I’m sure the very nature of each person’s endeavour will dictate there will be things to do, it will be on a smaller scale when it comes to gathering an audience.
Coincidentally, I found an opinion piece at Medium.com about the concert and event industry in the United States entitled Our Industry isn’t coming back like yours is, which basically says to others in the industry don’t get your hope up. There are so many factors involved with mounting a festival or concert, or even a Funfest type of event there is no way when the green light is given, presumably in some month soon, nothing will be able to be staged until next year. That goes for indoor venues too.
And, there are so many people involved besides the musicians/performers and stage crews; hotels, transportation, designers, restaurants, and even accountants who have paycheques tied to events as well.
Notes were taken from the conference call and formed part of the report from the City of Orillia’s Emergency Recovery Task Force report to the Emergency Management Team – and then to council.
Zigging back to the culture conference call, notes were taken from the conference call and formed part of the report from the City of Orillia’s Emergency Recovery Task Force report to the Emergency Management Team – and then to council.
Big on the want list is rent relief. The City has little leeway here, but has maybe better ability to source funds and exert a little friendly pressure where it’s needed. Many of the group also struggle with being online. The internet is a big place, users are not well versed in how to find locally relevant social media pages on sites like Facebook (expect for Grandma posting another one of those seemed-like-a-legit-comment-about –virus-shenanigans-but-really-is-just-hogwash) and they’d like to be able to get online, get people to their pages, and provide tutorials on how to shop online. On that there is good news, this week council approved a budget from the emergency fund to do just that.
There was also two companion ideas put forward by someone named Swartz advocating now is the time to experiment for the duration of warm weather with closing Mississaga Street and the Arts District to cars and create a weekend long pedestrian mall. This would allow businesses, particularly restaurants, to take over the sidewalks and roads for business and create the kind of capacity they would normally have inside their shops, while keeping physical distancing in play. The City also needs to investigate providing the atmosphere musically afternoons and evenings – hire the musicians who would otherwise not get to work until sometime in 2021 – like is done for many events downtown.
As it stands now, there are many events still on the books later in the year, which will inevitably get cancelled. The people who participated in another recovery committee focus group mentioned a couple things I didn’t even think of before. The group had excellent representation from the Mariposa Folk Festival to Streets Alive and some sports groups. They want the City to pull the trigger on their events. Most of these types of things contract with performers many months in advance of the event, if not a year ahead, and if the event cancels they are on the hook for the fees, but if the City pulls the plug then a good number of those fees go away.
The group also advocated for some kind of later in the summer event they could all participate together in. even that might be a stretch if group sizes are limited to 50 people, or something like that.
What To Do When We Can Do It
One of the things clearly evident during the above mentioned conference call is many people are feeling in the dark when it comes to what they will be allowed to do when the light turns green, and more important how are they going to be able to do what they are allowed to do.
The City’s manager of culture passed along a link to a group called the Event Safety Alliance who published a 30 page reopening guide for event managers, participants, patrons and staff. It even has best practices for cleaning and legal issues in it.
It’s pretty comprehensive, which as time passes may seem light-weight compared to newly available information, but it’s a good start for anyone involved in arts/culture and entertainment to read now.
* Creative Nomad Studios is initiating a show, 2020 Unlimited, and you can find details here. Anitta Hamming is using the windows in her under renovation community hub across the street from the Orillia Public Library to display the art. It’s a juried show.
* The Orillia Museum of Art and History has been doing a number of things on their Facebook page to stay public. They also are looking for submissions for an online exhibit they are planning. You can also find last month’s history night speaker giving what was supposed to be Fred Kallin’s public presentation on Raoul Wallenbuerg and other stuff on their Youtube page.
* The Orillia Public Library has a number of things you can do online through their website. They have games and programs to participate in as individuals or in groups. You can download music, movies and audiobooks. You can also take online courses.
* Shawn William Clarke has a new album, Spectral Acoustics Vol 1, and you can listen to it on Bandcamp – you can buy it there too.
* VK and the Legends of the Deep have a new video out Friday. It’s Smelling Like Roses from the Charm album.
Here is a list of musicians (in no particular order) that have been doing concerts online.
Essential Concert Series Thursdays, 8 p.m.
Steven Henry, Saturday’s, 8 p.m.
Bleeker, Facebook, Sundays, 6 p.m.
Bleeker, Instagram, Tursdays, 8 p.m.
* If you are fairly new to town, say within the last 30 years, or have trouble remembering you time here, you can spend some idle hours on the Facebook Group, If You Grew Up In Orillia
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Main: The 2018 Rotary Lions Funfest.