Elly on the Arts: Trying to find silver linings

What a sad couple of weeks this has been. We had a terrible snowstorm that caused school closures, the pool roof collapsed under the snow load, we lost the pool’s biggest supporter and City Council stalwart Colleen McKee to her battle with cancer and the whole province has gone into code red lockdown because we can’t seem to understand that COVID-19 is a thing that we need to take care of. It is challenging to find the positives.

Crystal Kolt continues to lead the arts and culture community forward on many levels but the things we actually see are being cancelled en masse. We lost out on the Loaded Mic show produced by Trevor Gordon Sytnick and Pictures at an Exhibition with Mark Kolt on piano and this year featuring contemporary dancer Marcus Merasty just this past weekend. The teams of volunteers who produce these kinds of events for us have worked really hard to master the new skills needed to produce shows that can be recorded and broadcast to our homes or live-streamed, but they still need to be able to get together to rehearse and they need to have more than five people in a room to put the show out there.

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So, we are not going to see beautiful art coupled with amazing dance woven together by astonishing original piano compositions that have never been heard before, at least not at this time. The wonderful and beautiful young musicians of Flin Flon will have to wait a little longer to blow us away with their skill and talent. Even the NorVA Centre has closed to the public, with the incredible Catherine Blackburn show New Age Warriors now taken down and repacked in crates ready for shipping. It had to be done on Remembrance Day, as that was the last time five people could gather in the space.

As we move towards the Christmas season we need to try to remember to “buy local” to support our local artisans. The online Christmas market was a really good introduction to the kinds of goodies available right here in our communities. You can even develop some new and entirely useful skills. We had to learn how to transfer cash on-line to fund our purchases, certainly a transferable skill!

We can give gifts of flowers to beautify our home environments or gift certificates for coffee or meals that can be used all year long, to support local business owners. Perhaps Main Street business owners could hang photographs or posters by local artists in their windows to show the town just how talented local artists are - not to mention how pretty that would be.

There are things we can do to maintain our communities during this lockdown but there are things we must do to ensure that the lockdown comes to an end. Follow public health rules and regulations to the letter. Stay home if you can and wash your hands frequently. Wear a mask when you must go out and only go out one at a time. Wash your masks and change the filters every day. These little things help keep everyone safe.

Keep teachers, daycare staff and all essential workers in your hearts, for they must go to their workplaces every day with very limited protections. The only safety they have is the diligence of the rest of us. Be kind - to yourself and to the people you encounter, especially when you encounter rules you don’t like. Nobody likes them, it’s just how they are. Take care till next time.

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