The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted arts and cultural organizations around the world, across the country, and right here in the Palm Beaches. Thankfully, creative people are, well, creative, and they’re thinking of innovative ways to bring cultural offerings into the home through virtual presentations and social media–based initiatives.
The Cultural Council for Palm Beach County has put together a comprehensive guide to virtual experiences from Palm Beach County arts, science, nature, and history groups. In addition, the Cultural Council has organized a Palm Beach County Artist Relief Fund to support area creatives whose work has been impacted by the pandemic.
For those with the financial ability, this is an excellent time to support organizations through individual donations or by simply gifting back the cost of a ticket to an event that has been canceled.
Here, PBI outlines 10 ways to make your quarantine experience a little brighter through virtual arts, cultural, and science programming.
1. The Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens has been diligently working to reformat its programming for a digital audience. In addition to three online tours—two currently available and one in the works—ANSG will present a virtual rendition of its famed Earth Day event on April 22, to include lessons and demonstrations aimed at introducing students to eco-friendly practices. The organization also has a YouTube video series featuring children reading aloud from the book The American Jungle: The Adventures of Charlie Pierce, a history story by Palm Beach County resident Harvey Oyer. Furthermore, ANSG is hosting an “Enriching Lives with Minx Boren” series of three live-streamed lectures (April 15, April 22, and April 29, all at 11 a.m.) on the well-being benefits of art and nature. All of these offerings are free, however, the “Enriching Lives” series requires advance registration.
2. The Norton Museum of Art has launched #NortonFromHome, complete with online collection highlights, mobile tours, and a robust video library of engaging artist talks, curator conversations, and staff picks. For parents who are also having to act as teachers at this time, the Norton has put together numerous educational resources. In addition to coloring sheets, users can download art projects (lists of materials and step-by-step instructions) to create their own Jackson Pollock–inspired action painting, Joan Miró–esque yarn work, cut-out à la Henri Matisse, or classic still life.
3. The Boca Raton Museum of Art’s #BocaMuseumAtHome initiative brings its collections to your fingertips. Those craving some art can view Q&A sessions with museum curators and go on a virtual gallery tour via Facebook and Instagram. The museum’s #KeepKidsSmartWithArt program features downloadable lesson plans, art tutorials, and tips for ways to expand a child’s creativity.
4. The Lighthouse ArtCenter Gallery and School of Art is taking its special exhibitions and classes to the web. Art lovers can now virtually view the annual “Best of the Clubs” show, which features pieces by residents from Palm Beach to Stuart. Live-streamed art classes are also available via the school’s website, with topics ranging from ceramics and drawing to painting and jewelry-making. Proceeds from the classes will go toward paying instructors and perpetuating the organization’s mission to connect the community through art. Registration for the virtual classes is currently open. The Lighthouse ArtCenter is inviting artists to share at-home projects by uploading photos to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with the tags @lighthousearts, #LighthouseArtCenter, and #LACbettertogether.
5. Feel like dancing? Well then, you’re in luck! Dance companies such as Ballet Florida and the Boca Ballet Theatre are hosting live-streamed dance classes for different age groups. While Ballet Florida and Boca Ballet Theatre are offering free classes through Instagram Live, other organizations like Downtown Dance and Ballet Arts Dance Company are presenting them through Zoom at a cost. Visit the individual websites for full schedules and more information.
6. As of April, Arts Garage is rolling out a new virtual series entitled “From Our HeARTS to Your Homes.” The free programming aims to serve the community through musical performances, arts education classes, and poetry and comedy presentations. Learn salsa, listen to tunes by talented singer-songwriters, and gain access to interviews and blog posts centered around vital arts topics.
7. When COVID-19 threw a wrench in 2020 programming, Theatre Lab, the professional resident theatrical company at Florida Atlantic University, decided to take live theater to YouTube. On March 29, it mounted an original monologue festival featuring dozens of monologues that followed the theme of “Stories of Hope.” The festival is now available to view on YouTube, and those interested can make a donation to the South Florida Theatre League Relief Fund to help support these artists during this difficult time.
8. From the arts to the sciences, both flourish in the Palm Beaches. The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium has launched a Virtual Science program to keep kids engaged in STEM education. Throughout the week, the West Palm Beach–based organization is hosting live-streamed content on Facebook, including science demos and lessons, aquarium programs, virtual exhibit tours, story times with scientists, and DIY projects kids can try at home.
9. Animal aficionados who are missing their favorite wildlife spots right now can get their fix online. Busch Wildlife Sanctuary has brought its public programming to Facebook, with daily educational videos of encounters with snakes, deer, falcons, and more. The Loggerhead Marinelife Center has launched a Virtual Coastal Classroom, featuring live programming daily at 2 p.m. and trivia nightly at 9 p.m., all presented through Facebook Live, with previous content archived for later viewing on the LMC website. The Palm Beach Zoo also has Zoo Talk videos and wildlife-themed activities, while the Manatee Lagoon has a virtual learning series on its namesake marine mammal.
10. Another way to stay connected through culture is by joining a Facebook group. Communicate with like-minded foodies and support local restaurants in the process with the Socially Distanced Supper Club. The Socially Distancing Together group invites locals to share their quarantine hacks, pastimes, and more. The Delray Beach Public Library has an Appy Hours group that presents videos and encourages discussion on a variety of helpful topics, including how to access eBooks, eMags, and digital audio books available for borrowing through the library system.