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Local arts, culture slowly begin to emerge from pandemic cocoon

Arts District galleries have reopened with new safety measures while Streets Alive prepares to bring colour to downtown, says arts and entertainment columnist
Megan Anne credit Megan Anne
Local pop songstress Megan Anne will be the featured artist in The Essential Concert Series, Thurs. June 11 at 8 p.m. Contributed photo

In this, our fourth month of the COVID-19 shutdown, Ontario and our area are starting to slowly re-emerge from our pandemic cocoon, in some ways.

We need to reopen to restart our economy, but the virus is still very much alive and circulating throughout most of North America for sure. What does this reopening look like, in our area these days, for arts and culture? What is safe for us to do, and how should we do it?

One thing that is safe and fun to do, is to go for walks throughout the area. Those who do walk have likely noticed that our Streets Alive artwork isn’t out through the Port and downtown…yet.

This year’s theme was to be all wrapped up with Mariposa Folk Festival’s 60th anniversary and was all about hippie buses. Don’t despair, we will still see hippie buses, just not until next year hopefully, when Mariposa will (again hopefully) be able to celebrate its 60th anniversary, a year later.

Streets Alive founder Leslie Fournier is planning on getting the sailboats out at the Port of Orillia this week, and is hoping for word from the Downtown Orillia Management Board (DOMB) on possible street closures shortly, in order to plan the rest of the street art.

She has a variety of art from past Streets Alive years available to scatter throughout downtown, if there is space for it. Stay tuned!

Although Orillia and area is entering Stage Two of reopening, it will be a slow process as businesses and the city work through all the health and safety protocols and figure out how to navigate this new normal.  

In the arts district, all the galleries have reopened with new safety measures in place. There are limits to how many are allowed in each gallery, physical distancing is a must, and regular cleaning and sanitizing is happening. So please don your mask and come see our local creative’s works, they would love to help you with your art needs!

Of course, our other downtown stores have mostly reopened as well. Please check in with the DOMB Facebook page to see who has reopened and what the new hours and protocols are, here.

The Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH) has not reopened yet. Executive Director Ninette Gyorody said, “We are in the process of developing our reopening strategy and plan. We’re proposing a phased in re-opening, with no set date as yet.”

The Orillia Opera House and other event facilities here are also still closed. Large events are not part of Phase Two and will not be happening for quite some time. As a result, the Opera House and the city have cancelled all public events in our area until at least Aug. 31.

The Orillia Public Library is planning to launch curbside pickup in the near future, and still has a multitude of online learning and fun opportunities for all ages each week. The library has done the pandemic pivot very well and my hat is off to them! To check out all the fun online offerings through the library, go to their website.

The National Arts Drive is June 20, more about that and who all is participating, in my column next week. Should be a fun event!

The Essential Concert series this Thurs. June 11 at 8 p.m. features Megan Anne live and online at The Maker’s Market. Donations go to the Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital Foundation. To tune in, go here.

Have a safe and sunny June week ahead! Remember to still practise physical distancing, wear a mask indoors when not at home, and wash your hands often.

Send your arts news to [email protected], by Tuesday at noon.



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