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Local artists and institutions go online in response to coronavirus

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BENNINGTON — With local galleries, museums and performance spaces closed to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, some arts organizations in and around Bennington County are making an effort to stay engaged by offering performances and activities online.

"Many artists in the gig economy are out of work and therefore out of a paycheck, and arts organizations across the country are facing substantial layoffs," the Bennington Area Arts Council notes in a release. "As we re-imagine how we can still find solace in the arts in our daily lives, many artists and organizations in Bennington County and beyond are taking the initiative by turning to social media to bring hope and cheer and to help us remain strong together while staying apart."

The council has launched a Creatives from the Couch Facebook contest, https://www.benningtonareaartscouncil.org/creatives-from-the-couch, through May 1. Artists are invited to make a video of themselves performing or creating music, poetry, art, or any other creative work and post it to the page. Participants must regularly get paid for performing or creating art, live within a 30-mile radius of Bennington, and have lost income opportunities due to COVID-19.

The council is offering $20 stipends for the first 20 eligible submissions, and then a $250 grand prize for the post with the most likes.

At Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, https://www.svac.org/, Julie Merwin of the Merwin Gallery, https://www.facebook.com/Merwin-Gallery-203599593176200/, has been posting assignments for the after school art class, Into the Inkwell, online.

Oldcastle Theatre in Bennington is conducting a "Guess That Tune and Guess That Play!" contest on its Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Oldcastle-Theatre-Company-334322943349/. After watching a video posted on the page, participants are asked to correctly identify the name of the song and show, or the name of the play, to win a gift certificate. Players are limited to one guess per person per video and one prize per person.

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The Hubbard Hall Center for the Arts and Education in Cambridge, N.Y., presents Hubbard Hall Online, https://www.facebook.com/events/560702601208188/, which each week will feature a mix of previous performances, some new performances, and individual and small group videos created by its community members, staff, artists, and teaching artists. Some weeks will be themed, and artists will have the opportunity to create and send a video to post based on that theme. Songs, poems, monologues or other demonstrations of skill or artistry in videos of five minutes or less can be emailed to david@hubbardhall.org.

The first offering of Hubbard Hall Online will be "HOT! — The Songs of Cole Porter," as presented by The Seagle Music Colony at Hubbard Hall in October 2019. To watch, visit https://vimeo.com/398808089 and enter the password "Hot2019".

Bennington Museum, https://benningtonmuseum.org/, is offering online behind the scenes tours and is continuing to dive into their extensive collection on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/benningtonmuseum/, and instagram (@benningtonmuseum).

Beyond the Bennington area, the Metropolitan Opera is offering encore presentations from the company's Live in HD series, https://www.metopera.org/user-information/nightly-met-opera-streams/, while museums around the world are offering interesting virtual tours, https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours.

If now is the time to learn to sing, play an instrument or create art, a number of local music and art teachers may be able to offer lessons online during these next few months.

The Bennington Area Arts Council's mission is to champion a thriving cultural economy through sponsorship, promotion, support, and encouragement of cultural activities, events, and organizations.


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