Friday and Saturday’s online presentation at WOODTV.com will feature 100 videos by various Michigan performers, from orchestras to rock bands to dance groups.
When Grand Rapids’ Festival of the Arts did the unthinkable and canceled this year’s downtown celebration due to the coronavirus pandemic, some local arts groups decided the first weekend in June shouldn’t be a silent one for the first time in a half-century.
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So, they hatched plans for “Virtual Arts Festival 2020,” seeking video submissions from bands, orchestras, dance troupes, poets and other performers to air Friday and Saturday when downtown would normally have been buzzing with crowds and music.
David Abbott, Festival’s executive director, said 100 videos were chosen from 175 entries to be aired starting at 10 a.m. Friday on the WOODTV.com website. The “virtual festival” runs until 9 p.m. Friday, with the video performances repeated Saturday in “an encore presentation” at WOODTV.com.
“We had an impressive array of artists from different genres: electronic, rock, classical, folk and jazz,” Abbott said.
“The process went well considering the event was put together in four weeks. The Arts Working Group remained dedicated to access in this event so all content was captioned, translated into Spanish and had American Sign Language.”
Performers featured in the virtual festival range from Grand Rapids Symphony, Opera Grand Rapids, Girls Choral Academy, Grand Rapids Ballet and Ebony Road Players to Jukejoint Handmedowns, Emma Lou, Ralston Bowles, Drinking Mercury, Bob Rowe, Elijah Russ, The Hacky Turtles, Stovepipe Stover, Glen Danles and Celeste Allison Trio. See the full schedule online at festivalgr.org here.
The online festival also includes messages and interviews featuring various artists and community leaders.
Abbott conceded “the Festival experience can never be fully duplicated to something virtual because it’s when we experience the arts together that the energy swells. There are some amazing moments though that we hope provide some joy and distraction during these unprecedented times.”
Festival received assistance in the project from Sidecar Studios, ARTPEERS, Well Design, the City of Grand Rapids, Kent County, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., Metro Health, Warner Norcross + Judd, Pioneer Construction, Kennari Consulting and the Arts Working Group.
At some point following the weekend event, all of the video performances will also be available on Festival’s website, which is also encouraging residents to fill out a survey about Festival online here.
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