The current pandemic has greatly affected businesses around the country. Between stay-at-home orders and businesses being required to shut down, it has been necessary to find ways to keep things going in any way possible.
Unfortunately, the arts have been hit harder than most. While many businesses have been able to reopen under specific guidelines, actors, musicians and anyone working in the performing arts continues to be unable to work. Not only are the actors and musicians unable to perform, theaters and concert venues are also struggling to remain in operation and not close permanently.
Local entities Greenbrier Valley Theater and Carnegie Hall held a question and answer session via Zoom to update the community on what they are doing to combat current restrictions.
Carnegie Hall Update:
One way that Carnegie Hall is striving to continue providing for the community is by offering online classes, according to Executive Director Sara Crickenberger. Recent classes have gained participants from all over the country. A recent class on baking salt rising bread was incredibly popular to the point that another class is scheduled to take place in January.The class even grabbed the attention of the New York Times which is publishing a piece on salt rising bread and will be linking to the class provided by Carnegie Hall. For a list of upcoming classes, head over to their website at www.carnegiehallwv.org.
Crickenberger also highlighted that another positive thing to come from one of their classes stems is from their creative writing class. Two students have been chosen to have their poems included in a soon to be released anthology. This anthology focuses on poems about the pandemic.
They hope to start holding concerts outside on the lawn as soon as possible. There are some logistics including space that must be addressed first, but the hope is to have everything worked out by spring, Crickenberger said.
Greenbrier Valley Theater Update:
GVT has also been offering online classes as much as possible, according to Artistic Director Cathey Sawyer. They held a summer camp program and are now offering an after school program.
Among other things, students have been able to practice monologues that they will be able to use for auditions for future endeavors. This is especially important for seniors trying to get into college programs.
One question that keeps popping up in regards to Greenbrier Valley Theater’s efforts is why their content is not streaming. Unfortunately, there are a multitude of restrictions associated with being able to provide streaming, Sawyer said. To get through these restrictions requires exorbitant fees. This is not currently an option due to financial strain from the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is still much uncertainty regarding what restrictions will look like going into the new year; however, GVT is planning on holding plays outside if they remain unable to hold events indoors, Sawyer said.
In other news, Sawyer is writing a new play and Development Director Ethan Serr has acquired a new grant to help keep things moving forward at the theatre.
Representatives from both organizations are encouraging advocacy for arts in the community. They are requesting that anyone interested in helping and showing support call their legislator’s offices.
Artists are struggling and need all the help they can get. Not only is it important for arts organizations to maintain their current funding, new grants and funds are also vital. Another consideration is the fact that unemployment benefits are set to end in December. With no sign of performing arts being able to resume, this is a serious concern.
Take the time to call your local government officials to let them know that the arts are important and in need of support.
“Every voice matters. Make those calls,” Serr said.
Sawyer added, “Any contact you have that is a government official, we need you to use it.”
A parent of a Greenbrier Valley Theater student was in attendance at the meeting. This mother provided praise for all those working so hard to keep the theater going and continue to host virtual classes and events.
For more information, contact Greenbrier Valley Theater at 304-645-3838 or through www.gvtheatre.org; or Carnegie Hall at 304-645-7917 or through their website at www.carnegiehallwv.org.