One of my biggest regrets this past summer was the realization we missed out on porch concerts. The disappointment was greater when I discovered a cool music series was occurring in our neighbourhood just one block over from our house. All summer long, the Red Haus on Dorchester featured top-notch artists.
Providing a safe place to listen to live music, DIY porch and curbside concerts became a thing over the summer. In the case of porch concerts, donations to musicians could be made in cash or via e-transfers. Curbside concerts charge an upfront fee for booking artists.
Live musical performances and the arts in general have been one of the casualties of the pandemic. Winnipeggers were recently asked in a poll whether they had supported the arts during the pandemic. Of the small number who participated, the vast majority — 87 per cent — said they had not.
Local bilingual musician Rayannah says, "One of the best ways the public can support artists’ work and put money directly into their hands is by buying their merch and their music (T-shirts, buttons, CDs, vinyl albums and downloads). It’s such a pick-me-up when you receive a notification that someone, unprompted, has bought a vinyl or purchased music on Bandcamp."
Like other artists, online presence is now a must for survival.
"Purchase their merch, take in online concerts, request their songs on local radio and consider donating through their Patreon pages," Stephen Carroll, music programs manager for Manitoba Film + Music, said.
Choirs are not immune to the nefarious by-products of the pandemic, either.
Winnipeg’s LGBTQ2* choir, Rainbow Harmony Project, is holding its rehearsals at the Crescent Fort Rouge United Church. Adhering to current health restrictions, choir members attend in small groups, wear masks and are properly physically distanced. Members also have the option of participating via Zoom.
My spouse and I recently attended our first masks-and-distancing arts event since the pandemic began. It was obviously overdue and I found myself dancing to beautiful music accompanying Van Gogh virtual tableaux on vast walls surrounding us. We came away with the realization that immersing ourselves in arts events, virtual or otherwise, is a must to sustain our mental health as individuals and as a couple.
Art in all its forms is medicine for the mind, body and soul as it inspires, energizes and comforts us. To bolster us through the current crisis, we need the arts now more than ever, just as artists need our support.
Armande Bourgeois Martine is a correspondent for Crescentwood. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org