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Atlanta’s arts community rises up for the new fall season
The show must go on — in new and innovative ways
In August of 2019, Creative Loafing published a preview guide to static and performance arts events scheduled for the fall season. This year, we’re checking in with many of those same arts organizations to find out what is in the offing this fall for Atlantans interested in the arts, given the new reality imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to asking, “What are some of the wonderful things to see, hear and experience?,” we had to ask, “Which galleries, museums, performance venues and festivals are still operating and what health and safety measures are in place to minimize the chances of patrons getting sick?”
The impact of coronavirus on the arts community has been devastating. We lost Mammal Gallery and The Bakery, two vital DIY spaces. Most galleries that closed down in March or on April 2, when Georgia was put under a stay-at-home order, remain closed or, in cases like the MINT, Marcia Wood Gallery and the Hammonds House Museum, are accessible by appointment only. Major institutions, such as the High Museum, The Atlanta Opera, Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta Symphony and the Alliance Theater, were compelled to cancel their seasons and postpone productions until the fall or into 2021. No arts organization, performance space or enterprise, regardless of size or mission, was unaffected.
As of late July, with Georgia trending in all the wrong directions regarding COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospital beds available for treating patients, it’s easy to be pessimistic about the near-term prospects for a return to “normal.” The more productive approach is to focus on what the new normal looks like and plan accordingly, which is where the good news comes in.
By and large, the arts community has responded to the pandemic with exemplary caution, responsible leadership, creative resourcefulness and admirable resolve. Practically speaking, the new normal is packed with online concerts, educational programming, virtual gallery tours and a reconsideration of what “live” performance gatherings will look and feel like going forward.
We are in the earliest days of a transformative era. The fall arts season is shaping up to be a ground-breaking experiment in real-time. Unprecedented conditions call for innovative strategies along with the acknowledgement that some ideas will fail and some results will be unpleasant. Regardless, a non-scientific survey of the arts community reveals an undiminished spirit and a commitment to persevere, to make the most and best with available tools, to adapt and evolve.
Mother Nature being the mother of all invention incubators, nothing spurs the artistic imagination like a deadly viral contagion. Just look at the work of Hieronymus Bosch, even if viewing hours are strictly limited and masks are required.