At one point in all of this coronavirus madness, there was actually talk of the newspaper listing all arts and entertainment events that have been postponed or cancelled.
Frankly, it would be much easier to simply list the ones that haven’t.
Whatever effect the virus may or may not be having on the general public’s health, the damage to the arts and entertainment community has been nothing short of devastating.
The collateral damage of social distancing is being felt everywhere, from local performances to major festivals.
Michael Gross, of Clearfield, is a Native American singer-songwriter who records and performs under the name Whisperhawk. Just last month, Gross was making plans to release his second full-length album, Broken Hearts Association, with a March 27 in-store concert.
Then came coronavirus.
“I guess like anyone else, I’m just trying to stay indoors as much as possible,” Gross said by phone. “I don’t think anyone knows what to do, other than to stay away from others. But [live music] is definitely one of the industries that is getting hit hard.”
Although Gross still plans to release his album — available online through various streaming services and at whisperhawkmusic.com — the live concert has been cancelled. It will be replaced with a live-streaming performances on Gross’ Instagram page, @whisperhawkmusic.
“I’ve done live streams before, for the benefit of people who can’t or won’t go out,” Gross explained. “But that said, nothing can take the place of a live performance in the same room as the artist — there’s a different energy that you just can’t replicate in a live-stream.”
But such virtual concerts may be the wave of the foreseeable future. Indeed, national artists like John Legend, Keith Urban, Pink, Bono and John Mayer have replaced arena tours with intimate concerts from the confines of their home or studio.
The John Legend online concert was part of the World Health Organisation’s new ‘Together at Home’ concert series. Countless other artists are finding new ways to remotely connect with audiences — everything from a daily talk show on Instagram featuring Miley Cyrus, to a virtual reimagining of the annual Luck Reunion festival held in Willie Nelson’s backyard.
Tempting to continue
Alicia and Camille Washington, owners of Good Company Theatre in Ogden, have moved two upcoming spring shows, “Babel” and “Two Mile Hollow,” to the fall.
Alicia Washington admits that it was tempting to try to continue their season, even as it was becoming increasingly obvious that wasn’t going to happen.
“Every performing artist is like, ‘The show must go on,’” she said. “And in all sincerity, I kept that at the back of my mind. But ultimately, what led us to postpone is that we realised it wasn’t the strongest leadership choice. It would have been a selfish decision.”
Like others, Camille Washington encourages arts patrons to “think really hard” before asking for a refund on tickets to cancelled shows, pointing out that if it’s an event put on by a nonprofit organisation, such sacrifices can be tax-deductible.
“Especially for a small organisation, and for musicians and soloists,” she said. “They depend on that income for a living. They’re pretty much living gig-to-gig.”
Whisperhawk’s Gross —who spent time in the locally famous bands The Brobecks, Let’s Become Actors and The Statuettes —says the current social distancing and quarantining isn’t much different from his last year of life.
“I’ve been holed up in my recording studio for the last year, writing and recording,” said Gross, who plans on releasing a second album toward the end of 2020.
Gross’ Broken Hearts Association was written in the aftermath of his mother’s “battle with cancer and ultimate death” last summer. The album addresses those difficult times, and Gross believes the album may be of help during the coronavirus pandemic.
“You can apply that to any difficult thing you’re going through,” he said. “Hard things, difficult things, are happening. But this sort of stuff happens to everybody, and you can get through it.”
While music fans won’t be able to see as many live concerts in the coming months, Gross does say there’s a silver lining in the Covid-19 outbreak. He believes we’re going to see a lot more album releases.
“A lot of people are holed up in their homes or apartments, and this forces them to be creative,” Gross said. “Especially for artists that usually tour this time of year, they don’t have a lot of time to sit down and write music. So, you’re going to see a lot more music coming out in the near future because of that. Mostly because you can’t really do anything else, other than sit around writing and recording music.”
Whiteley, with Excellence in the Community, also believes the performing arts may emerge from this pandemic even stronger.
“In some oriental language with kanji characters, the character for ‘crisis’ is the same as the symbol for ‘opportunity,’” Whiteley said. “Whatever good can be got out of this nightmare, for Utah musicians, we hope to be able to facilitate that.”
Alicia Washington adds that it has been heartwarming to see the “miraculous things happening organically” in the midst of the coronavirus panic. Like, for instance, quarantined residents in Italy throwing open their windows and singing arias to one another.
“The beauty of art is that it will always live and find a way to pierce through these darkest hours,” she said.—Standard.Net