Strathmore has been teaching and presenting accessible and affordable visual and performing arts to DMV residents since 1981. Whether you’ve caught a show at their state of the art Music Center, joined their Live from the Living Room virtual concerts, taken a class or toured the Mansion, chances are you’ve interacted with this area mainstay in some way at some point. Though the arts organization has not been able to allow audiences into their concert halls recently in light of the pandemic, Strathmore is taking the steps to once again engage with the region’s performance art lovers.
Some major events that Strathmore has slated in the coming months and next year include the visual arts project Monuments: Creative Forces by Craig Walsh, the collaborative concert Making the Music by Anais Mitchell, Duncan Sheik and Shaina Taub, Songs of Our Native Daughters featuring Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, Allison Russell and Amythyst Kiah, the concert version of Octavia R. Butler’s novel Parable of The Sower and performances by Step Afrika!.
“We had most of this ready to go in March, and had to put everything on hold until we could figure out the best way to move forward,” says Joi Brown, Strathmore’s artistic director and vice president of programming.
Strathmore will update these projects as the government revises guidelines that pertain to Covid-19, but hopes to bring joy to its audience members with these projects and performances whether in-person or through a screen.
The visual arts project Monuments, which will run through October, is Strathmore’s first installment in their 2020-2021 season. The installation aims to celebrate local luminaries and welcome the public back to the campus for the first time since early March.
“We’re so excited,” Brown says. “We’ve been working on this for nine or 10 months now, but when we initially conceived of it, it was in combination with a very heavy live performance schedule, which of course has changed dramatically.”
The Monuments artist, Craig Walsh, will digitize film of six Strathmore-selected regional artist’s faces and mesh these images to trees on the campus, illuminating the space at night with the images. The chosen individuals are locals whose artistic work, connections to the community or social actions are changing the shape of the community as a whole. The Strathmore team anticipates that there will be a timed entry model to match the activity level and crowd size that is allowed in October.
“We wanted to give people a sanctuary or inspirational space,” Brown states. “The stress levels for the world has been rising, and we know the power of nature and the arts, and putting this together and having it be available to the community as a resource for an entire month felt like the right thing to do.”
Brown and her colleagues have managed to make the challenge to reschedule everything in accordance with the Covid guidelines seamless. The team is ready to change seating arrangements, guest count and even ensure a digital streaming option as the current situation evolves in order to keep audience members and performers safe. Purchasing tickets to the performances, even if there is a chance of further postponement or transferal online, will help keep this vital arts institution alive as the region continues to struggle from the ramifications of the pandemic.
“It’s obviously an incredibly fluid situation, so we have to put our best foot forward and lay out a plan and do our best to make sure these artists have the platform so that people can be able to see them,” Brown concludes.
Enjoy this piece? Consider becoming a member for access to our premium digital content and to get a monthly print edition delivered to your door. Support local journalism and start your membership today.