reIMAGINE What Is The Way Forward?

A blog by SPARC guest blogger Denise Lysak exploring one festival’s way forward during COVID-19.

Kitchen Party poster - August 22

All across the country, companies struggle just to survive. Theatres, galleries, museums, and festival sites sit empty. So many artists, musicians, painters, actors, directors, guides, technicians, carpenters, janitors, marketers, designers, and arts practitioners face crippling financial strain, professionally and personally, as well as uncertain futures. Spaces AND people are in unprecedented times. Museums, galleries, playhouses are all cultural gems and losing them would hurt our shared history and heritage. 

As we, the audiences, wait and hope that soon: a) world premieres will come back; b) new exhibits will open; and, c) festivals will find their way forward.  So much hinges on science and discovery – therapeutics or a vaccine and until then, arts and culture are on hold as the coronavirus silently waits. What is the way forward?

Is there a new temporal home for a new season? Can people pivot? Can musicians make a living with live streaming concerts?  Can playwrights, directors, designers, and actors sit at tables, not in the same room, and create new works? Can art exist without audiences – in halls, in seats, in unusual spaces and places – on street corners, on buses or on roof tops?  Can the home, for now – be online?  

If you had asked me this, ten years ago…I would have said no. If you asked me this same question, two years ago, the same response would have been uttered – just no.  And, today, I am still uncertain.  My head says “yes” and yet, my heart says “no”.  Stay with me for just a moment.  Imagine if you will – a kitchen table littered with newspaper headlines and images, cut from free presses.  What do you see?  

THE SHOW GOES ON(LINE): AS EVENTS CANCEL DUE TO COVID-19 

EVENTS ARE GOING DIGITAL: SHOULD YOUR COMPANY FOLLOW?

MUSIC STARS ARE LIVE-STREAMING AT-HOME CONCERTS

OTTAWA FACING SILENT SPRING AS FESTIVALS, EVENTS CANCELLED

EDEN MILLS WRITERS’ FESTIVAL CANCELLED, REPLACED BY ONLINE EVENTS

The headlines bring more questions than answers.  Will the shift to online events forever change the experience that exists between the artists and the audiences? Will people pay to listen to a live-streaming concert online?  Will dialogues be silenced as gallery guides no longer stand in front of a large canvas, discussing the feelings evoked by a series that begs for critical thought and freedom of expression? My simple answer is “I hope not”. 

How then does that square with a decision to curate an abridged version of the now cancelled Moose n’ Fiddle Music Festival in 2020 and produce a 90-minute online event? I hope this is temporary. I hope the online home is truly a temporal home. Let’s focus on the idea that the online platform is simply a tool. A resource to connect to audiences. A way to move through a time and space – until we can all be together again.  

The KITCHEN PARTY is aptly wrapped by the idea of standing together, while staying apart. What does that mean for the artists and the audiences who have put the Festival on its feet? 

In ordinary times, it would mean: a very, long pause.  But these are extraordinary times and we wanted to meet the moment.  So…we have assembled a small group of the who’s who of Moose n’ Fiddle past and present.  We will mark COVID-19 with an abridged version of the Moose n’ Fiddle Music Festival.  

On Saturday, August 22nd, we invite you to continue to shelter in place, to stay home and be safe while enjoying the sights and sounds of an online KITCHEN PARTY.  In the spirit of standing together, while staying apart, this Kitchen Party will be 90-minutes in length and it will kick off at 8pm. Say hello to Siouxperboat, Belle Plaine, Adrian Sutherland from Midnight Shine, and Fu Fu Chi Chi Choir! Our narrators will be Wanda Kabel and yes, me – Dee Lysak.

The KITCHEN PARTY, online event will be hosted by 89.5 The Lake [Acadia Broadcasting] and the link will be on the moosenfiddle.ca website.  So, grab a cold brew from Lake of the Woods Brewing Company, order up some wood-fired pizzas from Black Oven Pizza, kick off your shoes, and tune in! This KITCHEN PARTY will be in the cloud and we invite you to join us. Yes, things are going to look and feel different. 

The online platform is a virtual room, to see – to hear – to learn – to entertain – to reIMAGINE. 

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