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COLUMN: Move to Step 2 a dagger for local arts community

'Despite the disappointment that we all feel regarding the temporary closure of OMAH, we will continue to offer engaging digital content,' says OMAH official
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Ninette Gyorody, executive director of the Orillia Museum of Art and History, says staff will be busy working behind the scenes even though the facility will be closed for the next three weeks due to the new pandemic restrictions that started today. Nathan Taylor/OrilliaMatters File Photo

Welcome and Happy New Year! Or is it Groundhog Day, I am getting confused!

Sadly, the word for this column is cancelled…or, online. We are back to a modified Step 2 in Ontario, which means most of the arts and culture that was just getting going again, is back on the shelf, awaiting the slowing down of this awful pandemic.

The Orillia Opera House, Stephen Leacock Museum, and Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH) are all closed until Jan. 27, per government regulations. Any event in Ontario that was planned to have more than five people and was scheduled before Jan. 27 has been cancelled or moved online.

Restaurants are offering take-out or delivery only, gyms are closed, rec centres and hockey rinks are closed, yoga studios ditto, and even gatherings in your home are limited to a max of five people only. We have definitely been here before.

But, we are nothing if not resilient! We know this is the fifth wave, and it too, will one day end.

“Despite the disappointment that we all feel regarding the temporary closure of OMAH, we will continue to offer engaging digital content and be ready to reopen when it is deemed safe to do so," said OMAH executive director Ninette Gyorody, 

"Behind the scenes, the team remains resolute in achieving their goals and objectives for designing, developing, and delivering their programs, including exhibitions and events, which we are looking forward to sharing with all of you," she said.

We do look forward to that day!

True to Ninette’s word, OMAH History Speaker series continues online, with local historian Dave Town on Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. Town’s topic will be Yellowhead’s Revolt, a discussion of former Rama Chief Yellowhead and how he stood up to Indian agent Thomas Anderson, to do what was right for his tribe.

The lecture will be on Zoom, it is free, and you can sign up for it today by emailing visitors@orilliamuseum.org. Of course, a donation to the museum would be gratefully appreciated. Or, buy a membership!

Creative Nomad Studios has pushed its workshops back to February, and the Orillia Opera House has done the same with its programming. The box office is still open though, so now is the time to buy tickets for future shows and workshops and support our incredible cultural institutions.

Of course, musicians throughout Ontario are disappointed and sad to be staying home once again. Troubadour Danny Michel, a fan favourite in our area, had this to say, after getting his booster:

“I know there’s a lot of scuttlebutt out there about Omicron being more contagious/less severe etc. but I’m still going to try and not get it. I didn’t spend two years locking down, not working and missing loved ones to blow it as we cross the finish line. Thanks to all the frontline workers and the kind pharmacist who said he hopes live shows start coming back for me soon, as I was leaving," he said.

Support your favourite local musicians by attending any online shows they are offering, donating if you can, or buying their music through bandcamp, where they get more royalties than other streaming platforms.

Don’t forget, retail is still open, and go back to ordering take-out from your favourite restaurant once a week, if you can.

As Danny said, we are almost at the finish line, so let’s do our part to make sure our favourite mom and pop stores, restaurants, cultural institutions, and performers are still there for us, when they are allowed to be once again.

Stay safe!

If you have arts news, send it to annaproctor111@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon to be included.