The show must go on, of course — even when a pandemic is dragging on and you’re unexpectedly facing a big downpour.
The Saturday afternoon Arts Alive! information fair and festival, aiming to show that the arts are going strong in Clark County, went forward more or less as planned. People wore masks, and information booths huddled beneath the Clark County Public Service Center’s rain awnings instead of spreading out in the brick plaza — but that didn’t prevent participants from getting out their message.
After too many seasons of pandemic loss and loneliness, they said, artists and art lovers need one another more than ever.
“We want everyone to know that the arts are here for them,” said LaRae Zawodny of the Clark County Arts Commission, one of the organizers of the event. “The scenario is still difficult, but that is why we need the arts.”
If the virus persists and rain threatens, Zawodny said, then so be it. “We’ll wear our masks, and we’ll dance in the rain,” she said.
But the rain held off and sun peeked through as Zawodny and others danced to the sounds of the Ne Plus Ultra Jass Orchestra, a Vancouver combo that delivers authentic jazz from a century ago — complete with tuba and banjo rather than bass and electric guitar. That was followed by dancers from the Washington Dance Creative and the Vancouver Ballet Folklorico, songs from Metropolitan Performing Arts, theatrical scenes from Magenta Theater and more.
Across the plaza, local poets gathered under a gazebo to share words of wisdom — including one piece about GPSing your way to your first vaccine — and invite listeners to contribute phrases to a community poem that would be assembled and read aloud at the end of the event. Representatives from new groups like Vancouver Stage and Art and the Columbia River Arts and Cultural Foundation pressed their parallel goals of bringing new arts facilities to different parts of Clark County.
“Let’s keep the artists and the money here rather than going across the river,” said Stuart Bennett of the Columbia River Arts and Cultural Foundation, which wants to build a new arts building on the Washougal waterfront.
“People need art for their mental health,” said Jane Chorazy of Vancouver Stage and Art, which is eyeing a disused building on the Vancouver Historic Reserve.
Christopher Luna, former Clark County poet laureate, recently restarted live monthly poetry readings at downtown Vancouver’s Art at the Cave gallery after going virtual a year and a half ago.
“It’s so great to be with humans again,” he said.
Arts Alive! was a collaborative project between the Clark County Arts Commission, Artstra and Columbia Arts Network.