It’s an understatement to say the arts and entertainment industry has been hit the hardest during this pandemic. Events, concerts and exhibitions were canceled one by one as people became encouraged to socially isolate and stay at home.
While this pandemic has caused the arts and entertainment industry to postpone and reschedule everything, it has also caused the department to evolve to a new normal.
Many arts and culture companies and departments have started turning to the internet whether it’s livestreaming a band performance or setting up virtual art exhibits.
The city of Goodyear is jumping on board with virtual arts, launching a series of Facebook Live performances in partnership with the Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Centers.
“I didn’t want folks to feel isolated,” said Guylene Ozlanski, Goodyear’s arts and culture coordinator.
“I reached out to our local arts partners to see what options are out there and the Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Centers stepped right up.”
The partnership between Solid Rock and the city of Goodyear created two daily programs for the performing arts, by the likes of Lois Zozobrado, a 20-year-old Solid Rock singer/songwriter going to college in Nashville, at 10 a.m. The other is a 1 p.m. livestream performance from teen musicians from Solid Rock.
“I’m getting this great place where we’re getting to connect with people but we’re also supporting our local artists who are also going to be struggling with everyone else during this time,” Ozlanski said. “It was really a fun way to continue to strengthen community and enhance the quality of life with the arts.”
Randy Spencer, fundraising consultant for Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Centers, said a program like this could continue even after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed to bring arts to those who can’t necessarily leave their homes.
“We brainstormed and came up with this idea to do something every single day so people can feel connected and encouraged and also have some form of education and inspiration,” Spencer said.
Spencer said the livestreams feature young artists and musicians who regularly give back to the community as well as rising student musicians currently attending Solid Rock.
“We decided to start with a live performance and why not do what we do best, since we’re known for music, art and dance?” Spencer said. “Let’s take it back to the kids and let them make as much music as possible.”
The live streamed performances are by musicians who are involved with Solid Rock. Amelia Joyce, a current contestant on “American Idol” who recently made the Top 40, participated in Solid Rock’s annual talent competition and won first place in the solo portion in 2017. It was at the Solid Rock contest that she met her boyfriend Austin Moore, whose father is executive director of the centers.
“It’s super cool that Randy launched this whole thing and when he told me about it, I thought it was just a really great idea,” she said.
As a full-time musician, Joyce said going to live gigs was a big part of her week, so the quarantine and self isolation was a dramatic change.
“That was my career and my life every night,” Joyce said. “The series is super awesome because it’s a way to bring live music to peoples’ homes. It’s close enough that it’s live and it’s in real time.”
Joyce will be performing her live session at 1 p.m. Friday, April 3. During her session, she plans to perform new songs and answer fan questions either about her music or her “American Idol” journey.
“People need a sense of familiarity whether it’s seeing their favorite musician or hearing live music in their home,” Joyce said. “I’m super stoked to do it.”
Ozlanski said the pandemic was a time for the city to find new ways to bring the arts to people, even when the period of social isolation is over.
“We’re going to get back to going out and being with people and I’m looking forward to that but there’s still a place for the virtual arts platform in our Goodyear arts and culture programming,” she said.