Virus is attacking our culture as well
Store closures, restaurants only serving drive-through or take-out meals, schedules disturbed, lives askew – the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has had a large and immediate impact on nearly all aspect of life around the world. And hits to cultural events are no exception.
Locally, that means the Newberg Camellia Festival has been cancelled this year. That obviously impacts the folks that had planned on attending the popular annual event at the Chehalem Cultural Center, but it also has a detrimental effect on the individuals and groups that are paid for their performances.
The impact of the virus has been felt in other local venues as well. An April 4 performance by guitarist Dorian Michael at Newberg Music Center has been cancelled, with a profound effect on Michael's bottom line. Still, he understands the need to keep people safe.
"I am sorry about it, but I believe (the cancellations) are necessary for the obvious health reasons and it should have happened earlier," he said in an email interview. "But it's a terrible situation for artists in general and for people in every field, whether manual labor or skilled professional. I don't hear any musician crying the blues just for us. We are all in this together and all the musicians know it."
For Michael, a 70-year-old native of Atascadero, Calif., who has been performing professionally for 55 years and averages more than 16 gigs a month, the cancellations will hit him hard in the wallet. His take-home pay for performances ranges from $75 for a coffee house, $150 for a restaurant, $300 for a wedding and $500 for a recording session.
"It's all over the place," he said. "But you can bet that the music you want to play the most will pay you the least."
Michael declined to say what he was due for his performance in Newberg, but said it was his decision to cancel.
"The music center didn't cancel me," he said. "However, the Tigard library and Lake Oswego library concerts cancelled, and a house concert in Portland cancelled. Therefore, I had to cancel Newberg because there wasn't much tour left to do. In my hometown I found out today that I lost two gigs for the coming week."
The impacts of the virus have not gone unnoticed by his cohorts in the music industry who have suffered setbacks.
"They sure are (suffering)," Michael said. "And they don't how how big; it looms larger every day. Each time we talk the question is 'What new thing have you heard that's going to hits us next?'"
While performing is his primary source of income, Michael also does some recording sessions, receives some royalties for music played on Pandora and other music streaming apps and gives about 10 private guitar lessons each week to augment his pay.
"The lessons will make a big difference in weathering the situation," he said. "Without the teaching it'd be a very different story. … I am very much a blue collar musician who makes an OK living from playing guitar and I have been able to do that my whole life. I am lucky that that has been the case; roots/folk music was never going to make me rich."
Fortunately for Michael his decades of performing have positioned him to weather the loss of revenue due to the virus.
"I am 70 years old, I have been doing this long enough to have something to back me up," he said. "If this happened to me some years ago, it'd be much, much worse. Someone who is 30 years old, finally getting their professional momentum going, having invested in a lot of costly gear, living month to month but looking at a work calendar that says there is finally some reason to be hopeful, and then seeing a dozen gigs fall away in a matter of days, is in a bad way."
And the cancellations aren't limited to Michael's concert. The CCC announced last week that it was cancelling a highly-anticipated performance by a Portland group."We also had to cancel our Opera on Tap concert this Friday – additional performers who are losing gigs and pay due to COVID-19," Carissa Burkett, CCC arts and public programming director, said on Thursday. "Many of our vendors earn their income from selling products at festivals like Camellia and also are impacted by the cancellations. The contractors we use for sound, security, tents, linens, etc., are all impacted by the cancellation."
Arts & Leisure briefs
A trio of state agencies announced Thursday the temporary closure of parks, forests and wildlife in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Oregon Parks and Recreation Department officials original said it would accommodate overnight guests through April 2 at locations including Champoeg State Heritage Area, but then close state parks to overnight use through May 8, at which time the situation will be re-evaluated. Then, on Sunday, Gov. Kate Brown announced that all state parks would be closed to all uses indefinitely.
The decision affects al individual and group overnight facilities, including campsites, yurts, cabins, teepees and services operated by concessionaires.
The Oregon Department of Forestry – which maintains campgrounds in Clatsop, Santiam and Tillamook state forests – closed those facilities on Monday for all uses. Trails and forest roads will remain open.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on Sunday closed its wildlife areas to overnight stays in dispersed and established campgrounds. The wildlife areas will remain open for day-use activities such as wildlife viewing, fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreational activities.
For more information, visit Travel Oregon at https://traveloregon.com/travel-alerts/, Oregon State Parks at https://bit.ly/OPRD-covid, Oregon Department of Forestry at www.oregon.gov/ODF/ and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at https://myodfw.com/visit-odfw-wildlife-areas.
Northwest Children's Theater slates Sherwood shows in April
Northwest Children's Theater is inviting those from Newberg and the surrounding area to attend a pair of showings of "Elephant & Piggie's We are in a Play!"
The performances are set for April 11 at the Sherwood Center for the Arts and are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. "Meet 'bestus friends' Gerald the Elephant and Piggie the Pig," the play's description reads. "Together, they tackle friendship's big questions: What happens when two friends want to play with one toy? What do you wear to a fancy party? And will anyone say 'Banana?'"
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