Henry Reese. Brian Conway photo.

“Theaters are dark, concert halls silent, and bookings for performers and stage crews canceled,” writes Bloomberg Businessweek.

“The same shutdown that’s endangering small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic is threatening small arts organizations.”

One notable exception is what’s going on in Pittsburgh. City of Asylum has found a way to connect with audiences and other help local groups do the same.

“The nonprofit hosted 178 literary readings, jazz concerts, and other events last year, in addition to its founding mission of sheltering exiled writers who face persecution in their home countries. Now it has launched a shared programming channel, The Show Must Go On(line), for its programs and those offered by City Theatre, the River City Brass Band, New Hazlett Theater, and other Pittsburgh organizations. Performances—which are live, prerecorded, or a mix of both—stream five nights a week on Crowdcast, and viewing is free.

“The cost for any one small organization to regularly produce, webcast, and market programs that primarily reach only its own audience isn’t feasible, so we reached out to others and started a collaborative webcast,” says Henry Reese co-founder and executive director of City of Asylum. “We want to keep the arts viable and visible during this difficult time—and by joining together, we can minimize costs and maximize programming.”

Reese said they are likely to continue online programming after the pandemic since they are able to reach news audiences that way.

“Each presenter on The Show streams events under its own name and can seek donations from audiences. City of Asylum received foundation funding for The Show, some of which is being used to pay artists who appear in performances and for operations costs.

“Webcasting costs are negligible, because all presenters use the stage, cameras, and sound system already in place at City of Asylum’s performance venue, a former Masonic temple that’s known as Alphabet City. Although it has been closed to the public since mid-March, one stage technician is overseeing webcasts for The Show Must Go On(line) there.”

Read the full story here.

NEXT staff

The staff at NEXTpittsburgh writes about the people driving change in the region and the innovative and cool things happening here.