And How to Find Your Own
I don’t know about you, but where I live (Ontario, Canada), has just entered its third lockdown. And I don't know about you, but I'd like to make the best out of being unable to go to the places I love. And I don't know about you, but I want to fill that gap with art. So I scrolled through Eventbrite, Facebook, and Instagram to compile this list so that you and I could fill our time with art.
The best thing I discovered in my research is the sheer volume of virtual events available. The ones I listed here were only the ones that were happening after today (April 18th) and that I thought covered a wide variety of topics, but my “virtual arts events” search on Eventbrite brought 250 pages of results! Then adding in Facebook events, Culturally's events, and events from people I just happen to know, I got an amount I can only classify as, a crap ton.
I’ve categorized each event based on how much interaction it takes according to these four labels: Observation, Education, Learn-To, and Immersive. There are a few programs for kids that are both educational and learn-tos, so I’ve put them under the education section.
So, let’s dive into Category 1: Observation.
These are the events at which someone else showcases their art and you sit and enjoy it.
First, easiest, and probably most plentiful are open mic nights. I think the best place to find them is Instagram. The Soap Box Press, a Toronto, Canada-based publishing company, hosts a series of themed open mics called First Fridays at 6PM EST on the first Friday of every month on their InstagramLive (IGLive). Typically they do a prior open call for poets to sign up, and during the event itself they open the floor to poets in the audience to perform—so you can be there to read or to listen! They also post their First Fridays on their IGTV, so if you miss one live you can watch it later.
Musicians and poets Kiana Balacich and Vania Verses and poet and wellness coach Kelly Myerson are co-hosting an incredible event on Zoom called Heal-n-Help on April 30th at 7:30PM EST. This event emphasizes the healing effect of writing while raising money for families experiencing cancer via the Christina S. Walsh Breast Cancer Foundation. Because this is a charity event, tickets are available via a small donation.
If you're looking for something more frequent, Friday Night Mic hosts open mics every second Friday on IGLive at 7:30PM EST, the next one being April 23rd. Because they happen so frequently, they're always looking for new performers! And if you're looking for something even more frequent, Brian of A Day without Love hosts open mics every Friday on IGLive.
If poetry isn’t your thing, music might be. I'm sure you’ve heard of Pitch Perfect (2012), but you might not know that the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA), the competition the Bellas and Trebles compete in, is a real thing. Hosted by Varsity Vocals, the ICCA, the International Championship for High School A Cappella (ICHSA), and the Open are competitions for all-vocal groups from Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. to dance, sing, and beat-box their way through a two- or three-layered competition system. You can watch their quarter- and semi-finals on their YouTube.
For you more traditional listeners, pianist Alexander Wu is playing a concert on April 24th at 4PM EST, hosted by the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. He plays through the evolution of music through time with pieces by the most popular male and female composers of each era.
Or perhaps you're more interested in visual art. The Bloomz, a London, U.K.-based group of diverse international visual artists, are hosting a collaborative Art Show on June 18th-19th. They aim to break down barriers and form connections, and offer the chance to chat with the artists and learn more about art. You can see their archive, their upcoming show, and their future shows all on their website.
Toronto-based Twist Gallery offers new virtual art exhibits every month, their current exhibit being Kaleidoscope: Inspired by Nature. They aim to provide a unique and immersive experience for their viewers. This exhibit doesn’t need registering and is open until April 28th, so you can browse at your leisure. They also have an archive of past exhibits.
One of the biggest things you might be missing about normal life is traveling, so you might be happy to know that some incredibly famous museums are hosting virtual tours—and frequently. For $15, you can tour the Louvre every Saturday and the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica every Sunday, both hosted by a professional guide.
Lastly, if you're here, you obviously know about Culturally Arts, but you might not know about their galleries for all kinds of art. They have the Hanbell Gallery for their Artists in Residence, such as myself, a Community Gallery for works from the community, and past virtual visual art and dance exhibits available in 360 degrees.
If you want to use a bit more brain power, this section focuses on events that teach you new things.
We’ll start with the for-kids events, for the homeschooling parents out there. The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)’s Indigenous Voices program is a twice-monthly webinar on Indigenous cultures geared toward K-12 students and teachers. Some are designed with specific ages in mind and feature arts-based activities, and are free with a ROM membership. The ROMKids Camp Director, Kiron Mukherjee, also hosts an education session on Tuesdays at 2PM EST, touching on hundreds of topics in arts, sciences, and history, including hands-on projects and experiments. He also has an archive of his past lessons.
Speaking of the ROM, they have some other incredible opportunities for arts education (or education in general). Via ROM Connects and Curator Conversations, you can find documentaries and lectures on art, cultures, and nature. They have a few open virtual exhibits as well. First is the Born of the Indian Ocean exhibit about cloths in Madagascar, with a focus on their origins, materials, patterns, and weaving practices. Or, if you’re willing to stray a bit from art into science, there are the Blue Whale Project and the Burgess Shale exhibits.
Further on arts and science, the University of Virginia Alumni’s Lifetime Learning program is hosting Shadow Drawing – How Science Taught Leonardo How to Paint, a lecture on Leonardo DaVinci’s marriage of art and science, on April 29th at 3PM EST. This lecture is hosted by Francesca Fiorani, a professor of Art History.
Or if architecture is more your thing, the Royal Institute of British Architects and VitrA are hosting Low-Tech: Working Creatively with Nature on April 20th at 12 PM. This discussion focuses on using natural materials and traditional technologies to create a more sustainable architectural future. Note that this event is charged in British pounds.
Or what about fashion? The Sarabande Foundation, Alexander McQueen’s London-based charity, has enlisted Joshua Beaty for Perfection in Imperfection: A Toile Drawing Workshop. In this talk on April 20th at 12:30PM EST, you will learn about sustainability and longevity in the fashion industry, with a focus on toile fabric.
Or maybe ballet! The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is offering The Centennial of Alicia Alonso: Cuban Ballet, Past, Present, and Future. On April 19th at 5:30PM EST, come learn about the legacy of Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso and her impact on future generations. The Library has so many other events to choose from, as well.
Or sculpting! Every Tuesday at 5:30PM BST, London’s Public Statues and Sculpture Association hosts a series of talks about the life and work of women in the sculpting industry, from the 17th century to the present day. This event is also charged in the British pound.
Or drama! The New York Adventure Club is offering a webinar on April 22th at 7PM EST: Broadway Musicals and Their Divas: 100 Years of Wowing Audiences. Learn about the histories of lead women in Broadway and their modern adaptations. This event is $10, and if you can’t catch the live show you can access the full replay for one week.
If you want to learn but are more hands-on, here are a lists of programs for learning new skills.
Culturally Arts has several courses dedicated to so many kinds of arts, from music to dance to writing to visual arts, on their Courses and Events pages. From beginner to advanced, you can practise your craft or learn a new one, or if you consider yourself a pro, they're always looking for new teachers.
The David Brower Center in Berkeley, USA is hosting an Earth Day Art Party on April 21st at 9:30PM EST. They'll first showcase artists of different media, before audience members enter break-out rooms with an artist of their choosing to make their own creations. This event is also donation-based.
If you’re interested in drawing, the Sarabande Foundation is back with the Fairly-Fast Drawing Class, with Karimah Hassan and Izaak Brandt, on April 28th at 12:30PM EST. In this event, you will be taking on the challenge of drawing the constantly changing form of dance.
I don’t know if you've ever heard of resin art, but it’s a beautiful art form creating furniture and decor using resin. Rengin Dogan at the Resin Art Workshop is here to teach beginners how to make it at home on April 23rd at 10AM EST. They outline everything you could possibly need to know about materials and safety on their Eventbrite.
And the event I found the most intriguing: Intro to Improv: You Are a Storyteller, where The Joy of Improv will teach people of all skill levels through games and exercises how to connect to the audience and tell a story. The Eventbrite outlines the benefits of improv, what to expect from this class, and how to best be prepared.
These are the events that felt the most “in-persony” to me. They focus on connecting with others through existing passions, rather than learning new things.
You might have caught my last blog about Artist Morning, but if not, it’s a group meditation and journaling session hosted on Wednesdays and Fridays at 9AM EST by Darius Bashar. After meditating, participants partake in 15 minutes of private journaling. Each session is different but always involves a lot of love! Or if you can’t make it, AM’s YouTube has guided meditation sessions for you to try at home.
Culturally Arts also has a community outreach program, featuring a Spring Art Contest ending at the end of April, as well as several opportunities to create materials for the community, such as education materials and greeting cards. For high school students, these opportunities also offer volunteer hours!
The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., U.S.A. hosts a Virtual Writing Hour every Tuesday at 5PM EST. They bring the writing prompts, you bring the wine (or beer, or tea), and you write and read together. Note that all their slots are filled until May 11th.
And finally I saved the most mind-blowing for last: a virtual convention for writers of “strange” fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, or experimental genres). This convention allows you to find new things to read, offers writing and publishing tips, consists of panels and events throughout April on Discord and Clubhouse, and even contains a costume contest. You can find the events’ dates and synopses, as well as the list of panellists, on the Writers of Strange Fiction’s website.
From sculpting to piano to improv, I hope something here has spoken to you. But if not—which I totally understand because, as you might know, I really emphasize that art is subjective—there’s an entire world of events out there waiting for you. I recommend heading on over to Eventbrite or Facebook with your own pricing and date filters, or checking out your local art galleries, museums, and libraries. If you have Instagram, you can also find some artists you like (hashtags are a wonderful tool for that) and see what events they’re involved in. Oh, and once you click one art-related ad on one social media feed, you're sure to get more art-related ads on all your social media feeds, so use that to your advantage.
The pandemic’s gotta end some time, but for now, let’s make the most of getting to go to a museum in our pyjamas.