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When cultural venues close, artists move online

caption: Zoe Juniper performance at On the Boards
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Zoe Juniper performance at On the Boards
photo @ Christopher Suggan, courtesy On The Boards

Governor Jay Inslee’s public gathering restrictions are wreaking economic havoc in what was once a thriving, multi-million dollar cultural sector.

To put it in perspective, last year almost 9 million Puget Sound residents went to arts events or science exhibitions; compare that to the 3.1 million who attended professional sports competitions here.

No matter how you choose to spend your leisure time---and money---many experts say public gatherings aren’t just a fun way to pass the time; they unite us in a common cause, whether that’s cheering on the home team, or applauding an amazing leap at the ballet.

Lucky for us, social distancing hasn’t stopped the world’s artists from devising new ways to console, entertain or distract us from the pandemic. Here’s a sampling.


Seattle Symphony is offering weekly concerts on Youtube and Facebook.

The contemporary performance presenter On the Boards has made its subscription service, On the Boards TV, free through the month of April. OTB has been recording performances for several years, and its archives offers an international who’s who in the world of contemporary arts.

The Northwest Film Forum is offering the annual By Design Festival online this year.

Although Town Hall Seattle has cancelled most of its live talks, it’s offering some civic events from its digital stage. TONIGHT you can see a live stream conversation between award-winning writer Timothy Egan and his daughter Sophie talking about conscious food choices for the planet.

Seattle Art Museum has created a “Stay Home with SAM” blog highlighting different artworks every week.


Looking beyond our region, many international museums and arts presenters are streaming their collections and performances.

Italy is in lockdown, but some of the nation’s acclaimed museums offer parts of their collections online. Haven’t you always wanted to tour the Uffizi Gallery?

If you prefer Paris, why not browse 100,000 works of art from the City of Light’s museums?

You can spend a full day in New York’s Metropolitan Museum, in person and now online.

Prefer music? This week the Metropolitan Opera has been offering daily rebroadcasts of some of opera’s greatest hits. A caveat: the site is jammed, so try to stream off-hours.


Beyond these big institutions, thousands of artists are putting their performances on social media, Youtube, and other digital platforms.

Particularly fun on Instagram.

Cellist Yo-yo Ma has been posting wonderful solos (@yoyoma)

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s posts have been gorgeous (@alvinailey)

And #coronaart brings up a mixed bag of the humorous, the poignant and the beautiful.

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