Arts community moving carefully

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. 

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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.

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