In times of crisis and overwhelming anxiety, the arts has been what has helped us through.
Sometimes that’s by taking issues head on, whether that’s been mezzo Joyce DiDonato’s transcendent Vancouver Recital Society performance here of “Lascia ch’io pianga” to reflect on the Paris attacks, or Alannah Mitchell using only a chalkboard to synthesize the meaning of the death of our oceans in Sea Sick at the PuSh festival.
Sometimes it’s been by offering an escape, through a serene recital of Stabat Mater or a dazzling production of The Marriage of Figaro. Or being one of the many to catch Keith Haring’s subway drawings and a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting at the Vancouver Art Gallery in the months leading up to Donald Trump’s election.
Now, paradoxically, we are faced with a situation that threatens to torpedo those rituals on a large scale. As Leila Getz, founder and artistic director of the Vancouver Recital Society, puts it: “What we do and what everybody in the performing arts does is bring people together for a collective experience. And now we’re doing the opposite.”
Suddenly, thanks to worldwide concerns about COVID-19 and the way it might be spread in public gatherings, arts groups are having to advise people that it’s best if they stay home for a while.