The Will & Deni McIntyre Foundation has been awarded a $5,000 grant by the Perry N. Rudnick Endowment Fund of the Community Foundation of Henderson County to help fund Pandemic Arts, a streaming video series where performers share their talents and discuss how the global pandemic has affected their careers and their plans for the future. The McIntyres conceived of the project as a result of watching online concerts by performers from their homes with virtual tip jars and Patreon accounts.
“You could see them performing on Facebook Live and YouTube, but there didn’t seem to be a forum for them to talk about how they were really doing—how the pandemic was affecting their creativity, their rehearsing, their recording, their finances or how they were feeling about the future,” says Foundation co-founder Deni McIntyre. Pandemic Arts works with a small crew to gather footage, edit the same week and send it out to YouTube, Vimeo and the websites of institutional partners including Blue Ridge Music Trails and the NC Arts Council. Each streaming episode is 12 to 14 minutes long, giving the viewer a good feel for the featured performer’s situation. The material is edited by radio station WNCW for broadcast and for an audio podcast introduced by Laura Boosinger of the Madison County Arts Council.
“The subject matter was too time-sensitive to go through normal channels with PBS, which isn’t really set up to push out cultural material as if it were a news story,” says Deni. “We decided to do this as a streaming series and enlisted some institutional partners who could help with distribution by linking to the content on their own websites.”
Episodes of Pandemic Arts have featured musicians Zoe & Cloyd; David Holt; John McCutcheon; Darren and Jennifer Nicholson; the Isis Music Hall in Asheville; and the Flat Rock Playhouse. Upcoming episodes will feature banjoist Trajan Wellington and vocalist Kat Williams, among others. “We were honored to lend our perspective and share our experience during these unprecedented times,” says John Miller, who, along with Natalya Weinstein, makes up the duo Zoe & Cloyd. For those wondering how Miller and Weinstein have fared since their episode was released in May, Miller says they have settled into a routine that consists largely of teaching music and spending time with their daughter. They have also managed to record and release new material that is available at ZoeandCloyd.com.
“I think we’ve all started to get used to this new way of living for the time being,” says Miller. “Even with some promising vaccines on the horizon, it seems like the recovery of the music industry and live performances is, unfortunately, a long way off.”
In addition to the grant from the Community Foundation of Henderson County, Pandemic Arts is funded by the Rhea Bigelow Charitable Trust, Carlyle Adams Foundation, Myrna Harris, and Fred and Lauren Weed. The Pandemic Arts series will be donated to the Ramsey Center for Appalachian Studies at Mars Hill University as historical documents of the COVID-19 era in the Southeast.
See Pandemic Arts at the Will & Deni Films YouTube channel. Make a tax-deductible contribution to the Will & Deni McIntyre Foundation at WillandDeni.org.