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 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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