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How to support the arts during a pandemic

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BIG SKY – Overnight, as social gatherings were cancelled for the health and safety of the community, arts and entertainment venues were forced to shutter public galleries and cancel performances. It remains unclear when opportunities for art sales and concerts will arise again, but in the meantime the community still has options to support local artists directly.

“The arts are more important now than ever,” said Megan Buecking, education and outreach director for the Arts Council of Big Sky. “They offer us a critical source of communication, connection, catharsis and comfort during a difficult and isolating time.”

Whether we’re using this time to create a masterpiece or support someone else in creating theirs, we continue reaping the benefits of the creative arts. While we social distance at home and look for ways to stay busy, entertain ourselves and our families, ACBS is helping us stay connected with some tips on how we can help support the arts while we hunker down.

Shop and watch online

Since you’re stuck indoors, now is the perfect time to redecorate your walls and at the same time support artists and artisans from home. Since we can no longer visit galleries in person, and canceled travel plans have slowed the usual tourism traffic, many artists are relying solely on online sales. Grab something for yourself, an upcoming birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or get ahead of Christmas shopping by supporting local business owners. Here are a few Big Sky artists that offer products online:

In addition, keep your eye out for the Arts Council’s public art virtual tour on their website the week of April 6. It will feature a virtual tour of Big Sky’s public art installations, including a lesson plan for each, perfect for parents looking for an at-home art education resource.

Watch a live performance

While we can’t visit our favorite bar, music venue or enjoy live theater right now, musicians and performers are getting creative, streaming online shows and sometimes including a virtual tip jar. Order your favorite takeout and growler to go and check out these upcoming local favorites from the comfort of your own couch:

  • Start your day off with beautiful morning mandolin sessions with Kevin Fabozzi.
  • Jeremy Harder interviews local musicians and personalities on RadioBigSky’s YouTube page, and will drop in occasional short skits with actors from the Big Sky Community Theater.
  • Tune in weekly for Brian Stumpf’s Stumpy Sundays.
  • End your week on a high note with the Friday Afternoon Club featuring a different weekly artist on Explore Big Sky’s Facebook page.
  • If you’re craving some theater, Shakespeare in the Parks is streaming recordings of recent plays on Facebook. Shows are every other Friday at 7 p.m. and the next is George Bernard Shaw’s “You Never Can Tell” on April 17.

Bring the arts to your home

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few ways to occupy your hands and mind while creating something of your own.

ACBS is offering weekly art-to-go packets, available for pick up with the school lunch program and including art supplies and instructions for simple, elementary-level art projects that kids can do at home with family. While limited, instructions for each project will be posted on the Arts Council’s Facebook page and often require materials most will have at home.

Enter a contest and be featured locally

Put your creativity to the test with these upcoming calls for art with ACBS. Art can be submitted on their website.

  • Music in the Mountains poster and T-shirt design contest! Artists of all ages can submit designs for a chance at cash prizes and their art will be featured during this summer’s free concert series.
  • The Environmental Sustainability Drawing Challenge is a unique opportunity to have your art featured on a local utility box. This contest is for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders throughout the state and also provides the opportunity to win a free week at Big Sky Community Organization’s Art camp.

“If you look back in history you’ll find that some of the most impactful artwork, music, film, writing, and so on, have come from times of challenge and struggle,” Buecking reminds us. “The creative works that we make now will help future generations understand the perspective of someone living through this pandemic.”

While we may be confined to our homes for now, supporting the local arts has the power to keep us connected as a community and is a reminder that no matter how long our venues and galleries remain closed, we still possess the power to create.

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