The State of Independent Art and Music in Cleveland amidst the Pandemic

It's been a long year

Art and music have, in many ways, learned how to carry on throughout the last year. It's been hard, and certainly less than ideal. But things are turning a corner. When will it be safe to gather?



The State of Independent Art and Music in Cleveland amidst the Pandemic

It's been just shy of a year since the State shut down. Most everything I care about promoting here at Weird Cleveland ground to a halt. The summer provided some opportunities, and then things very quickly got difficult again.

The city's independent art and music scene has certainly been creative about it. In some ways it feels like everything just shifted to livestreams (which still feels true to this day), but organizations rose to the challenge in ways that offered far more imagination than a lowly Zoom call.

  The city's art and music scene rose to the challenge in ways that offered far more imagination than a lowly Zoom call.  

Maelstrom Collaborative Arts put on The Wandering, an interactive pseudo-performance made available to one person at a time. They also did Activate, where artists and performers took over their storefront window, something that's ramping up again with three month-long residencies starting in March. Blank Canvas Theatre, which runs out of 78th Street Studios, has been doing periodic parking lot shows. Panza Foundation announced that, instead of sponsoring a slate of bands they'd instead be supporting four largely shuttered venues (Happy Dog, Mahall's, The Grog Shop, and The Beachland Ballroom). The Beachland raised money to purchase streaming equipment to continue to get local music out (those shows were supposed to happen in December, but they ended up shutting down completely for two months and are just now getting those shows put together... though I've been assured they're coming).

These are just a few examples of how folks stepped up to connect artists and audiences in Cleveland throughout the looming apocalypse. It's been inspiring to see what's been achieved, considering. But what happens next? When will this nightmare end? Soon. Ish.

We're already seeing some shuttered spaces begin to re-open. Transformer Station and Spaces have both opened their doors. The Happy Dog peeked their heads out briefly to sell out the venue-supporting Lights on Lager. 78th Street Studios has been doing their third-Friday art walks the last couple of months.

  We can probably expect to reach herd levels of immunity near the end of July.  

But for the large part, a return to normalcy is going to rely on the distribution of vaccines, that sweet and magical elixir that might not totally prevent illness, but for the most part, will completely remove the threat of death. I've been tracking the Ohio vaccination rollout for the past several weeks, and it's pretty straightforward math to look at 1) The current number of completed vaccinations, 2) The average number of daily vaccinations and 3) How many people are left to vaccinate before we hit something close to herd immunity. My assumption is that, even if we're still wearing masks when we gather, that once we reach that point, it'll feel pretty safe to gather.

So when I started doing my maths in early February, it was going to take us until March of 2022 before Ohio reached herd levels of immunity. But vaccine production has picked up a lot in the last month, and today's math points to October. If production continues to pick up pace as it's expected to (especially considering we now have a third vaccine shipping out), we can probably expect to reach herd levels of immunity near the end of July.

Normalcy approaches. And it's picking up steam. I can't wait.



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