A previous version of this story incorrectly labeled last week's event name as Moving into the Future, the name of an upcoming panel on June 24. The panel referenced in this story is named Reimagining the Arts.
WENATCHEE — Art in its many different forms is returning to the Wenatchee Valley, albeit a little different than it was before.
A group of five art leaders from across North Central Washington met at the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center last Thursday as part of a community Q&A series, Reimagining the Arts. Speakers discussed how art in the valley will look going forward while reflecting on current and past challenges.
Both the museum and Our Valley Our Future put on the event.
One of the biggest struggles in the arts sector is the interaction that people are now having with technology, Wenatchee Valley Symphony Orchestra director Nikolas Caoile said during the panel.
Music from the Wenatchee symphony was heard by people in other states and countries, he said.
Families from all over the state were able to watch family members perform, he said. Connecting to new music has also become easier.
Performing before an in-person audience will require some adjustments after playing virtually for months.
“We’ll have to get used to large crowds in small spaces,” he said. “We’re going to flinch for a while before we feel comfortable doing that again.”
Monica Miller, ArtsWA board member and executive director at Ellensburg’s Gallery One, has been juggling both the virtual and in-person world.
Barriers have been the hardest part of the pandemic, she said during the panel. Everyone keeps asking about in-person events like First Fridays, not what is happening on YouTube.
Online programing has reached some, but “it doesn’t go that far,” she said.
Figuring out which events work best virtually and which are about human connection is the big question, she said. “Trying to merge those experiences is really hurting my brain … we’re hanging in there,” she said.
“Our mission is to provide access to the arts for all, not the most. So for us, we don’t have the answer yet,” she said.
There is a wonderful opportunity for self-reflection in light of everything that is happening in the arts community, she said.
The virtual, digital world has shown how important the arts are to businesses, for example, having good graphics, video production and a story to tell. Miller said she is hopeful the general business sector will see more value in what art brings to the table.
Jarod Breshears, owner of Skeeterbuggins Productions, said the Valley is about to see a “new evolution” of art.
All the artists had to think outside the box this last year, he said. Theater shows, for example, really had to take it up a level to entertain their audience.
“I saw both sides of people who thrived with that and people who didn’t,” he said.
Breshears asked that people help support artists in the Valley. People are doing amazing work, he said.
The Icicle Creek Center for the Arts will host its first hybrid event, both in-person and recorded live, at its upcoming Chamber Music Festival, July 2-24.
Icicle Creek executive director Rebecca Ryker said having people from all over the world tune in to watch the performance will be a positive thing, but “there’s no way that you could ever replace a live experience.”
Ryker said live recordings of events will be sticking around, helping to provide accessibility to all.
Icicle has re-envisioned what it will be now and going forward in light of the pandemic, she said. Job descriptions have been re-written and will probably keep changing moving forward.
It has been exhausting, but “I’m really happy to see us coming out of it now,” she said.
Ryker recommended those who are looking to support local art to donate directly to artists or organizations working closely with artists.
“We just have to collectively take care of each other,” she said. “We can get through this together.”
A full discussion of the panel can be watched at wwrld.us/artQA.