Since everything seems upside down the last couple of months, let’s start with a footnote. Last issue, we explained Mobile Symphony Orchestra (MSO) General Manager and Director of Artistic Administration J.C. Barker was named executive director of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra.
“It’s a great opportunity for him. We hate losing him and his expertise in all things artistic,” MSO President and CEO Celia Mann Baehr said.
So, will MSO fill Barker’s slot? For now, the position is likely to remain open while the future is so fuzzy.
“It will probably be a little reconfigured but to tell you the truth I don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like because of the current state of affairs we are in at the moment,” Baehr said.
Since the pandemic reached the American South, MSO lost two concerts in April and May, along with the youth orchestra’s finale. They’re waiting to hear about fall school schedules before creating a corresponding plan for educational programs.
Ambiguity rules. There’s no clear timetable for now.
“We usually start work on the next season about the end of the fiscal year, which is June,” Baehr said. “[MSO Music Director] Scott Speck has three orchestras and we’re all in the same boat right now. It’s a challenging time for the performing arts.”
Like the challenge of cozy small headquarters where social distancing is difficult.
“We just don’t have a virtual network so it’s hard for us to work remotely because we can’t access anything — so we never really left the office,” Baehr said. “We’re doing staggered days, some people are here some days and others on other days.”
Hats off to educators at the Mobile Museum of Art (MMoA). A group of them honed their creative skills by repairing the elastic on face masks for city of Mobile first responders, including fire department personnel. As of April 29, they had restored 1,890 masks. Their goal is to reach 10,290 masks for the community.
Curious as to what else goes on behind the scenes at MMoA? Follow the “COVID-19 Updates” link at mobilemuseumofart.com and you can take virtual tours of MMoA’s storage, scale models used for exhibit layout, maintenance and more. You can even get a look at curator Stan Hackney’s home art collection.
The Alabama Contemporary Art Center (ACAC) has seized the reins in leading our creative contingent through the early stages of this pandemic. Their Postcards from Quarantine program proved highly popular, selling more than 50 packets with a few commissioned bundles filled as well.
“We got more coverage from Postcards than we have [from] anything else we’ve done since I’ve been here,” Director Elizabet Elliott said.
ACAC is moving on to a new project, Yard Art, which will be in a virtual gallery. Sculptors are invited to create a work, post a photo of it in their yard to Facebook or Instagram and employ the hashtag #ACACYARDART to enter.
The works must be outside and occupy a space of 52 by 24 inches. They can be installations, utilize found objects, light or sound, or be group projects.
If you want to be eligible for prize money — up to $600 — you need to fill out a brief form on the ACAC website. Follow the main page link under “Flatten the Curve” to find a page with more details.
Winners will be selected May 15.
For 65 years, Mobile Arts Council (MAC) has been a constant presence in arts advocacy and arts education in the greater Mobile area. They’ve touched lives from cradle to grave as a wide-reaching umbrella group assisting a vast spread of artists and organizations with exposure and funding throughout the year.
The pandemic shutdown hit this keystone of downtown revitalization hard. Spring fundraisers like the Taco Takedown were canceled, creating losses of more than $22,000. According to MAC’s GoFundMe page, they have raised $3,820 of a $1,000 campaign goal to meet the Downtown Mobile Alliance’s $500 Downtown Strong matching grant, as well as a $500 matching grant from GoFundMe.
An announcement on the MAC website said they are still in need to “keep [their] doors open,” so they announced a new incentive for donors. Those giving $50 or more to the MAC GoFundMe will receive an exclusive 11-by-14-inch print, a painting of downtown Mobile by MAC Executive Director Lucy Gafford.
MAC will email $50 donors to acquire a physical address, then safely drop off or mail the print in coming weeks.
Donations can be made through their website at mobilearts.org.