The Harbour City Theatre Alliance is finding ways to offer arts education in a pandemic.
Starting Oct. 21 registration is open for HCTA’s new visual and performing arts education program, Inspirations. The program features all-ages in-person and remote classes on acting, dancing and painting, with classes set to begin in November.
“We’ve come up with a different kind of system where it’s more we’re teaching what we’re really passionate about … as opposed to, ‘OK you need to learn this and this and this and then you can take the next class,'” said Dean Chadwick, who teaches an acting course. “Because that’s not the type of system we’re setting up. It’s not about taking one to take the next one, it’s more of, ‘You want to learn about this? Come check it out.'”
Chadwick said the first set of classes will start in mid-November and run four weeks before Christmas, with another round of classes planned for the new year. He said he and fellow instructors Miranda Murphy and Jennifer Kelly started Inspirations partly as a way to support artists who have seen work dry up as a result of COVID-19.
“Right now as a performer it’s really hard. All our contracts are gone. We’re sitting back going, ‘Hmm, what do we do?'” Chadwick said. “So this seems to be the most reasonable way of keeping people employed, sharing their passions and having fun and hopefully getting students a little amped up.”
Right now there are no singing classes due to COVID-19, but Chadwick said that will be offered in the future.
“We’ve got too many people who are trained in that area not to share,” he said.
“And too many people who are dying to sing safely,” Murphy added.
The Harbour City Theatre has put in place new measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. The facility now provides sanitizer at the door, floor arrows are in place to guide visitors and seating capacity has been reduced to 26 with “bubble” seating available. Streaming equipment is in place to allow for students to tune in from home and Chadwick said they’ve also acquired a “contraption” that destroys germs using a type of ultraviolet light.
“This works here perfectly because it doesn’t get anything wet,” Chadwick said. “You don’t have to spray your equipment, it keeps it safe and lasts longer.”
Kelly, who teaches speech and dramatic arts, said Inspirations aims to restore some of the enjoyment that comes from group-based artistic activities as that has been largely absent this year due to limitations on gatherings.
“Focusing on inspiring people and bringing joy back to our lives is a really important aspect for all of us, especially theatre people,” she said. “We’re such a community. Everything we do is communal. It’s about group and we’ve been missing that so much.”
For more information about Inspirations and to sign up, click here.