Arts Dinner Online

Last week I was invited to join an online forum series called Arts Dinner Online. The first one was titled, ‘SO WHAT NOW? New Ways of Working in the Arts.’ When the Covid-19 lock-down hit Australia, performers lost gigs and large scale events were cancelled overnight. In this forum the speakers talked about coping – mentally and in practical ways – what kind of funding was available for the community, and how would events like festivals evolve post-Covid.

Bronwyn Davies, Coordinator, Cultural Services Scenic Rim Regional Council, asked if I could talk about the process of going online to teach piano, and then play a song. I’m on the YouTube video at 1 hr 31 mins before the event went to Q&A. I wasn’t part of the Q&A.

For my part I listed practical things I did to prepare to teach my students online. I described the parents’ and students’ responses to this way of teaching, and what I thought were the pros and cons. I wrapped up with a slideshow of my students, CCCB, and Kooralbyn locals singing karaoke online during lockdown, i.e., music is for life.

The evening began with a Welcome from Aunty Gerry Page, and a live performance by Mununjali Ngari in Beaudesert. A half-hour cooking segment: Eat Local at Home with Kate Raymont followed, then speakers were invited to share their experiences since mid-March.

Speakers at the Arts Dinner online event

We all used Zoom, Bronwyn and Michelle Blair, Regional Arts Services Officer for South West Queensland, were the event hosts. The speakers were:

  • Alex Stalling, founding director and lead artist at Toowoomba creative studio Tinker
  • Jessica Brown, poet, performer, director, arts worker and teacher with over twenty years’ experience in the creative industries
  • Mike Townsend of First Class Accounts Beaudesert
  • Paul Osuch, Founder of Anywhere Festival, a festival for performance anywhere but a theatre
  • Ros Abercrombie, Executive Director of Regional Arts Australia, and previously Director and Creative Producer for Artlands Victoria (Australia’s national regional arts event)
  • Jeff and Julie Crabtree, authors of Living With A Creative Mind, an operating handbook for creative people published in English and Japanese
  • Kate Raymont, Scenic Rim Regional Food Ambassador

These people are all very accomplished, and there’s much more bio info about each of them on the ArtsFront.com page about the event.

When I was able to watch the whole event on YouTube later, I felt a bit embarassed that my talk was so positive in the midst of such adversity. Like the finance news journalist who tells you with a beaming smile why millions of dollars was wiped off the stock market today. However, I do think it’s easier for me to deliver my service online, because that’s what it is, a service. It’s not performing, which is entertainment and a completely different kind of product to offer. Yet, it’s still the arts and there is probably less demand for piano lessons than for maths tutoring, and in that context I am fortunate to have a continuing business. I might post more about this later, but that’s it for now.

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