Pizza at Midnight 

September 30, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

On the Arts page next week, Theatre Orangeville returns with its first indoor, on Broadway, in the actual theatre, play, featuring two of our favourite actors, lights, a gorgeous set – all the trimmings – in over 500 days – David Nairn is doing the calculations.

The passion that prefaced this realization is at the core of what a stunning arts community is: the soul of Orangeville. We really have it so good. Murals on walls, amazing designs and pictures of Orangeville’s art life printed on vinyl and pasted to those walls, without impinging on them at all, easy to paste as many murals as are excellent, anywhere willing in town.

Our streets are decorated and so are the sidewalks – what’s it like for a stranger to come here and see the vibrancy, the music, the colour – and the inclusivity that is the character of this (still) rural town?

All through the Covid shut down, the arts community has pushed back. Can’t come into a premises to see us in person? Okay! We’ll do concerts online. We’ll have cabarets streamed into your homes – now you can see them on your big screen! 

Choirs sang with choirs across the country; musicians played their guitars, drums, basses with fellow musicians from here to B.C.; Theatre Orangeville followed a series of entertainments with plays, making theatre of film, making it happen.

Some of it was free to begin with but the cost was still similar for the performers and, before too long, they asked for small payments and – it made sense – so, we paid willingly and the fun rolled on.

Visual artists had their toils too; they resisted the shut downs and the “stay at home,” closed art shops and galleries had displays in the windows of Dragonfly and Maggiolly. Brave and bright, artists brought their talents to defeat the crumminess of the lockdowns with the bravery of spirits that refused to be dull. Art classes online; shopping for one of a kind online – never getting out of touch – refusing to relent to a depression that could have overwhelmed us.

Just down the road in Alton is the Alton Mill Arts Centre, the true Art Gallery in our collective creative world: galleries and studios we could not visit in fact but they came to us, doing their best to display their work, giving us lovely paintings and glass works and so much more to admire – to buy and lighten one of our own walls, if we wished.

Alan Pace and the Farmhouse Pottery along Hockley Road, brought his collection outside and made an outdoor shop work, once protocols allowed outdoor visiting – seven days a week.

There has been much to learn and with that, has come the idea of considerably extended sharing of the art, here in Orangeville that is going to be a legacy of this miserable time, that has been much less miserable than it might have been, if this arts community and arts communities across the country had not been so ambitious to join their talents, have fun, keep us sane and damn Covid!

These lessons can apply to all the artists who pushed themselves into the virtual world – at first as a way to survive and to share the extremely important presence of art in our lives and, now, to stay with people living nowhere near town but still keen to keep a relationship with the talent that is here.

Perhaps, an enduring fellowship of artists of every ilk has been kindled – so many kinds of artists in so many regions of this land – a whole new and, really, easy way of securing inclusivity. How much better is inclusivity understood and bonded than through art: the pictures that we see – the music we hear and the stories we tell? Tearing down the walls between us, making nothing of the geographical distances separating us.

Now we see your village and you can see ours and we can and will share our interpretation of our individual worlds and know each other better. And we can tell our audiences so they can know, they can enjoy and learn and let the differences melt.

It is said and I believe it, that to play Mozart to a baby still in the womb is good for the baby’s development. Learning to play a musical instrument increases math ability. Raising a child with classical books and poetry, hanging pictures on the wall, creating a connection to beauty encourages intellectual growth and a sense of compassion with the world around us. Making sure, even in an urban setting that our children experience the world of nature by being in it, within parks and trail walks and offering that young person every chance to reflect what has been seen and learned – give that kid some paper and coloured pencils.

Art is the cornerstone of who we are and, if this pandemic has taught us anything, it has confirmed that for sure.

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