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Opera in the Time of COVID-19

Opera in the Time of COVID-19

What is opera in the time of COVID-19? Check in every Wednesday for an inspiring story on how opera companies are innovating to deliver ARTISTIC and CIVIC IMPACT during these times of isolation.
 
 

The Rock Performs - Opera on the Avalon

 

The ramifications of COVID19 on the performing arts have caused artistic directors and companies across the country to make impossible decisions. Cancelled productions and dark theatres have caused major drops in revenue, posing a challenge for even the largest organizations to remain float. But amongst some of the hardest hit, are undeniably the artists themselves, who have worked and trained their whole lives for the opportunity to share their voice in a theatre full of people. The big question is of course, how can companies support the artist community in a time when it is impossible for audiences to gather? Despite all the challenges this pandemic has created, Opera on the Avalon (OOTA) has made it their mission to do just that, with an innovative virtual summer festival.
 
 
The Rock Performs is an online concert series featuring twenty live video performances, highlighting local artists and some of the province’s most iconic landmarks. With the goal to hire as many performers as possible, OOTA will be partnering with major cultural spaces in the province to create a film series that showcases not only local talent, but also the culture and tourism sector, which has also been hit extremely hard by COVID19.
 
World-renowned photographer David Howells is also confirmed to work on this project. Some may remember his work from the powerful photo exhibit displayed in conjunction with OOTA’s 2018 production of As One, featuring portraits of local transgender people from Newfoundland. This season’s exhibit will travel across the province along with the video series - something General and Artistic Director Cheryl Hickman likes to call, “art by accident.” With so many of the grocery stores and retailers still open to the public already having screens set up in their stores, the plan is to display the series at any public space in the province that has video capabilities.
 
“If nothing else, COVID19 has shown us that we have to act in everybody’s best interests, which is so far away from what we’ve been doing as a society. This I think for us, is a way to get as much content with as many artists as we can, and also expand our reach by helping other people,” says Hickman.
 
 
Hickman also shared that the local support for this project has been phenomenal. When local tech companies realized that they were no longer going to use their travel budgets for the rest of the year, they banded together and decided to support the community by donating to local organizations.
 
It is no surprise that this pandemic has caused many organizations to rethink their plans for future seasons. “We have to rethink our business models, but also the social contract that we have with artists, says Hickman. “We have to think about what is best for our industry, and what is best for the people that we work with - the artists who have trained so long, done so much work, and have given up so much to have these careers. At the end of the day as presenters and producers, are we living up to our end of the bargain?”
 
Head on over to OOTA’s webpage to keep up to date with the launch of The Rock Performs, and learn about how you can support this community initiative!
 
 
Story by Sarah Forestieri