The New Normal: Arts & Entertainment

Magic Circle Players live-streamed a performance “attended” by 1500 people. Courtesy image.

[SW Colorado | July 2020 | Kathryn R. Burke]

The Art and Entertainment industry has undergone an enormous change in how it presents art, music, and live performances. This new artistic normal also comes with a new vocabulary—words like “virtual, Zoom, live-streamed, online.” And it depends on high-speed Internet like we get here in Montrose and Delta Counties from Elevate.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, a “virtual” presentation is “being on or simulated on a computer or computer network.” People don’t have to be physically present to see and hear a musical or theater performance: It can be performed and digitally projected to an unseen and unpresent audience via the Internet. “Live” takes on a whole new meaning, as viewers can attend virtually rather than in person. They partake via “live-streaming,” an online service that facilitates broadcasting an event from one computer device to another. The receiving system could be anything from a desktop or laptop computer to a handheld device, such as a tablet or smart phone.

And it’s not just performance art that can be transmitted via the Internet. Galleries display art on their walls, but they can also display it virtually, where an art lover or buyer can “see” and buy it “online” without ever stepping foot into the gallery.

This magical transforming of live to live-streamed, of in-person to virtual, commonly happens through the use of video conferencing software. One of the most popular is “Zoom.” It allows presenters to set up an account, then invites viewers to “join a meeting” (or participate in an event or performance) shared via video, audio, or both to the recipient’s computer…again, relying on high-speed Internet (at both ends).

Friends of David Starr, Cedaredge musician, “hosted a Facebook Party” for his performance. 703 “viewers” joined the party.

Earlier this year, Montrose’s Magic Circle Players (MCP) presented War of the Worlds, a virtual performance with each actor playing their role from their own home (with a set or backdrop), the many parts smoothly combined into a seemingly single performance, then live-streamed to an audience. “Tickets” were sold through the MCP website, and over 1,500 people “attended” without the actors or audience being present in the theater!

Cedaredge musician David Starr puts on a weekly concert via Facebook live-streaming that allows his listeners to make song requests using a “chat” feature. Listeners and viewers can see who else is in attendance when pictures and chats pop up on their screens. Listeners can invite friends to “attend,” perhaps even hosting a “Facebook Party,” another feature that invites an audience from diverse locations, gathering together without physically congregating.

The 610 Courtyard in Ridgway, a new venue, offers musical, comedic, and small theatrical performances to a live audience (limited to 16 persons per seating), then extends their reach to a virtual audience by live-streaming.

For a long time, many people were leery of the Internet, not trusting it to keep their financial transactions safe and unaware of its potential. But now, with the crisis of Covid, and the necessity of socially isolating and avoiding any kind of large gathering—coupled with the fear of getting ill—people are finding a new way to share art and entertainment without actually being physically present to do so. They can invite faraway family members and friends to join them in a concert or play, or “visit” a gallery together. High-speed Internet is now a way to keep us together when we must be apart, and we can still enjoy creative endeavors simultaneously, wherever we may be.