As the COVID-19 crisis continues, social distancing, stay at home orders and other efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus are impacting the economy. One sector is being hit hard.
Singer/songwriter Phil Norman during a live streaming performance from Spot on Kirk; one of several venues in southwest and central Virginia making efforts to keep going financially; maintaining the audience connection through virtual performances and appeals for support.
Jamie Booker Cheatwood manages the Spot, a small listening room venue in downtown Roanoke.
"We have been featuring solo artists for a live streaming series. We've been doing those for every Sunday so far. Those are live streaming from Spot on Kirk's Facebook and Instagram pages. And, they are donation based; so anyone can watch, it's up to you if you donate, and you choose ther amount. We've also been selling e-gift cards for future events, because we do have events planned for the summer that we hope to be able to go through with."
The Front Porch in Charlottesville is a performance space and a music school. Executive Director Emily Morrison says presenting live streaming performances is vital, as is keeping music lessons going with online instruction.
"Most of our instructors are either only instructors or are instructors and performing musicians. And, very few of our instructors have other day jobs; other than music. So, they've all taken a hit, definitely, in their income. And, part of my mission has been to just make sure that the Front Porch stays in business; that they can contibnue drawing a paycheck."
Morrison is also using the virtual shows to extend support to other community groups.
"We're using the opportunity to also raise money for other non-profits who are just driving straight at this crisis, like so many of our sort of hometown heroes. And, so, what we really want to do is just lift more ships and draw more awarenes for the need in our community right now through this concert series."
Spot on Kirk performances are streamed from the venue, as are several by the Front Porch, with minimal staff and social distancing and other precautions taken.
The largest venue in Roanoke is also inviting musicians online, from the comfort of their homes. Robert Knight, Sales and Marketing Director for the Berglund Center, says they are opening their Facebook page to artists looking for an audience.
"We're not used to not welcoming patrons into our doors every couple of days, so we're just racking our brains with different ideas to let people still enjoy live music. We tried to do it so really connecting these artists with our fans; hopefully gaining these artists a little bit of notoriety. We just kind of opened it up to everybody, so hopefully we can get some local and regional people to be able to kind of share their music."
Other venues are moving online, including The Harvester Performance Center in Rocky Mount, the Floyd Country Store; Third Street Coffeehouse in Roanoke is keeping their weekly shows going through streaming sessions from artists’ homes and Farm and Fun Time, a musical variety program broadcast from the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol now has a home edition, originating from the host Kris Truelsen’s porch, with house band Bill and the Belles.
Links to explore live streamed performances: