Few have felt the sting of pandemic isolation as acutely as artists, who feel most alive — and even make a living — when they go onstage or show in galleries.
That hasn’t been possible for the past pandemic year and a half. Many of Clark County’s arts groups have either gone dark, hit pause or struggled to adapt to changing safety rules and expectations — like the newest normal, proof of vaccination to get into a show.
Fall has always been the time when theaters, dance troupes, orchestras and art galleries announce their upcoming seasons. This fall is no exception, with plenty of happenings scheduled for the upcoming months, from theater to music to the resumption of the self-guided Clark County Open Studios tour of artists’ workspaces.
But people who’ve replaced their local arts explorations with a Netflix habit could probably use a reintroduction to the local arts scene. That’s why a trio of Clark County arts boosters — Artstra, the Clark County Arts Commission and the Columbia Arts Network — pulled together Arts Alive!, an information fair and performance festival, set for noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Clark County Public Service Center plaza.
“The goal is to invite the public to reconnect with the arts,” said Karen Madsen, spokeswoman for Artstra and mastermind of the event. The event is free and open to all. In addition to information booths from 25 different organizations — from watercolorists to folk dancers to poets laureate — there will be brief, live performances of music, dance, sacred drumming and theater scenes by Columbia Dance, Journey Theater, Magenta Theater, Metropolitan Performing Arts, the Ne Plus Ultra Jass Orchestra, Traveling Day Society, Vancouver Ballet Folklórico and the Washington Dance Creative.
“It was amazing how quickly they all stepped forward when we reached out. They are eager to show that the arts are returning to Clark County,” Madsen said.
The onsite gazebo will host live poetry readings by Clark County Poet Laureate Armin Tolentino and past Poets Laureate Gwendolyn Morgan and Christopher Luna, as well as student poets. Children will have fun writing original poetry too, but concentrated group activities for kids were eliminated because of the rise of the new delta variant of the coronavirus, Madsen said.
Social distancing is also why overall participation was topped at 25 groups, she said, and why booth seating and entertainment seating will be somewhat limited at Arts Alive!
Free parking is available in the adjacent parking garage. The event is an easy walk from the Vancouver Farmers Market.
“We hope this will really be a celebration, welcoming back the season of the arts,” Madsen said.