As theaters of all sizes go dark and stages remain empty, those of us who find solace in these spaces are left wondering where to go, while many artists are wondering how they’ll pay rent. Artists are resilient (more resilient than they should have to be, given the way this country historically values them), so while the ingenuity displayed by our national arts community in the last week is staggering, it's not surprising.
Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard performs live from his home. Broadway fixture Seth Rudetsky’s Stars in the House series presents daily in-home concerts from stage stars. Celebrities are going bonkers on Instagram: legendary Tony-nominated performer Debbie Allen taught a dance class via IG Live, for god’s sake, which is such a random and cool idea (Gal Gadot’s mash-up of celebs singing “Imagine” in 100 different keys was arguably less cool, but they can’t all be winners).
One silver lining of self-isolation: proximity no longer affects access. Theater streaming platform BroadwayHD is offering a free week, and it offers more than just Broadway shows: San Francisco’s A.C.T. Theatre has released recordings of its recently canceled productions (Gloria by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Toni Stone by Lydia R. Diamond) on the site, and more are likely to follow. Watch nightly world-class performances from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Take virtual tours of the British Museum, Musée d’Orsay in Paris, The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and many others, thanks to Google Arts & Culture. Actor Ali Stoner and playwrights Lily Houghton and Matt Minnicino started the Instagram account @theatrewithouttheater, “a nightly theatrical broadcast aiming to fill the current artistic void at curtain time.”
Bookmark The Social Distancing Festival, a brilliant online clearinghouse of live performance available online, with a calendar that includes links to everything from jazz to opera to puppet theater. Meanwhile, some established theaters and dance organizations are making recordings of canceled shows available to ticketholders (union regulations complicate release of these recordings to the general public, but these are unprecedented times, so stay tuned for more information about local theaters’ policies as it becomes available).
Livestreaming of live arts will never replace the real thing, but as we stay home to participate in this massive act of human solidarity, it can fill temporarily fulfill our need for creativity and connection. The ghost light, a single light always left on center stage, is a theater tradition (and superstition) to keep ghosts away, but also a reminder that theaters never really go dark.
If your job is unaffected by this health crisis, consider donating some of that money you’re saving by not going out to artists and gig workers who aren’t so lucky. If you have a ticket for a show that was canceled, don’t ask for your money back. Buy subscriptions for next season now. If an artist is making their work available online, donate to their Patreon or support them via Venmo. When we come back together, let’s make sure we come back strong.
If you’re an artist, the good people at Northwest Folklife have compiled a massive list of support streams here; fans, donate to author Ijeoma Oluo’s Seattle Artist Relief Fund Amid COVID-19 for local artists here. Below, find an ongoing, non-comprehensive list of events big and small to enjoy from home. Are you an artist with a digital performance or event to share? Email me at email@example.com.
On the Boards, our local hotbed of innovative performance, is offering free access to its streaming service Ontheboards.tv through April 2020. The upcoming OtB performance of New York theater artist Tina Satter’s Is This A Room may be postponed, but you can check out her Chekhov-inspired Seagull (Thinking of you) online, along with works by game-changing New York playwright Young Jean Lee, Theater Replacement out of Vancouver, and works by local artists including Dayna Hanson, Ahamefule J. Oluo, Kyle Loven and Markeith Wiley, among many other filmed performances.
Seattle Symphony Orchestra is offering free broadcasts of orchestral performances; hear Dvořák Symphony No. 8 on March 26 at 7:30 p.m., and visit seattlesymphony.org to see the full lineup of online offerings from our Grammy-winning local symphony.
The dogged folks at Artist Home are maintaining a virtual concert calendar if you’re looking to beam your favorite local bands and musicians directly into your home.
After the cancelation of SXSW, Dick’s Drive In stepped up to fill the void for local musicians who count on that festival as a career springboard. From March 20-25, tune in to NXNW on the Dick's Drive In Restaurant Facebook page at 6 p.m. daily, for a live broadcast from London Bridge Studio (repeat airings follow the next morning at 10). Twenty bands will play over five days, though an official lineup has yet to be announced.
Northwest Film Forum has gone online—instead of visiting the Capitol Hill venue, catch the innovative ByDesign Festival (through March 22) on your personal screen.
Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture is showcasing one piece of visual art from City of Seattle's Civic Art Collection every day on its Twitter feed—not live performance, obviously, but a cool thing to scroll through if you can’t stay off your phone while watching something on your laptop. Also in visual arts: Seattle Art Museum’s Stay Home with SAM project talks viewers through one work from in its impressive collection every week.
Every Wednesday, comedy showcase Joketeller’s Union, hosted by Brett Hamil and Emmett Montgomery at Clock-Out Lounge on Beacon Hill, will be streamed online. You can even order delivery from Clock-Out’s delicious in-house Breezy Town Pizza for maximum authenticity.
And individual artists are starting to release their work digitally: After necessarily canceling her in-person showing at Café Nordo, dance-theater artist Alyza DelPan-Monley used her remaining time in the space to record Diamonds are Foreveryone, now available on her Patreon page.
If literature is your preferred art form, order from local bookstores; most are offering free shipping or local delivery, some offer curbside pick-up. For starters, check out Elliott Bay Book Company, Third Place Books, Ada’s Technical Books, Eagle Harbor Book Co. on Bainbridge Island, Secret Garden Books, University Bookstore, Phoenix Comics and Games.
Another way to fuel your creativity and stave off boredom: Short Run Seattle is collecting one-page comics “about what your daily life looks like now, whether it be good or bad.” These pages will be posted first on Short Run’s Tumblr page, and ultimately compiled into an old-school zine documenting this surreal experience.
However you choose to fill your artistic void, just remember that it's temporary. Art always survives, but if we can make that survival a little easier, let's do it. Happy streaming!