How do you plan a big arts event during a pandemic?
If you ask the executive director of the Quesnel and District Community Arts Council, Dina Unrau, she has a simple answer: “carefully.”
Unrau is helping plan and execute Quesnel’s Culture Days events. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused big changes to the lineup.
Concerts, packed shops and handshakes are out. Replacing them will be outdoor tours, physically-distanced sales and travelling musicians.
“We’re doing a scaled-down event,” Unrau said. “Normally, we have more in-person events, but we put those on the back burner and instead are doing an Art Walk, which you don’t have to have a large gathering to look at it.”
Culture Days is a cross-country event, with different cities and towns holding events across Canada.
The events in Quesnel will be headlined by the unveiling of a new mural downtown. The mural includes around 100 hexagons painted by members of the community. The unveiling will be streamed on Facebook.
“We’re trying to livestream a lot of the events that we’re running,” Unrau said. “It’s hard to find people in this town who can video and stuff like that.”
While the province-wide Culture Days virtual launch is on Sept. 24, most events in Quesnel are set to start on Sept. 26.
The sidewalk art challenge, Art in my Park, and mural unveiling will all be on Sept. 26.
Art in my Park features several local artists and runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1302 Lakeview Dr.
The Quesnel Art Walk also begins on Sept. 26.
Downtown businesses have become “galleries” for local artists’ work for this new event.
Pick up a brochure at any of the participating businesses and take yourself on a self-guided tour.
Once you’ve seen all the presentations, fill in an entry form and add your name to the draw for a gift basket. A random draw for one of three baskets will be held Oct. 10 at 4 p.m. at the closing of the Art Walk
“We’re hoping to increase the downtown traffic by partnering with the downtown business association and Quesnel Art Gallery,” Unrau said. “With COVID-19, they haven’t had a lot of downtown traffic, so hopefully this will bring more people to the downtown core.”
Despite the challenges, Unrau says she is proud of what Culture Days will look like in 2020, encouraging a safe and fun slate of events.
“We’ve managed to put together some very good things given COVID-19 restrictions,” Unrau said. “We’ve done pretty good doing our part to keep people safe as well.”