In years past, the Spokane Arts’ annual awards parties celebrating local artists and cultural organizations have often been raucous affairs. Artists and audiences have shown up with loud costumes, strong cocktails and questionable dance moves. (This is what I’ve been told, anyway.)
This Saturday, the Spokane Arts Awards party will go online, but the nonprofit still intends to go all out. “Just because there is a virus doesn’t mean the party can’t happen,” said Darrien Mack, who will provide musical entertainment as Rosethrow, a DJ, for the online awards celebration.
“Yes, it will look different, but all the people who would be part of this if it were still a physical show are still going to show up,” Mack said. “We are a community that can get creative and make it work. And make it fun.”
The fun happens this Saturday at 8 p.m. from the stage of Lucky You Lounge, where the acts will be livestreamed for $5 per household and on all devices within it (go to spokanearts.org and luckyyoulounge.com for tickets).
Mack will join party host and local artist Emma Noyes live and onstage (and socially distanced, of course). An American Sign Language interpreter and captioning will enable more people to tune in to the celebration.
Both the host and Rosethrow will keep the one-hour show lively by introducing local acts who were pre-recorded by Rogue Heart Media on Lucky You’s stage last week. Mack will present vocal streams from local bands.
Performances include a reading by bestselling novelist Jess Walter, who will give a literary sneak peek into his soon-to-be-released novel “The Cold Millions.” Other livestreamed performers will include local country singer, fiddler and guitarist Jenny Anne Mannan.
The Spokane Chinese Association, which is up for a Spokane Arts Leadership Award this year, will present a prerecorded dance performance. And local poet and collage artist Kathryn Smith has teamed up with Mack, who also is a filmmaker and station manager at Community Minded Television.
They have created and presented an animated sneak peek from her upcoming poetry collection, “Self-Portrait With Cephalopod.” Smith’s book has already won the Jake Adam York Prize and will be released in February.
Spokane Arts Program Manager Mika Maloney, who planned and built much of the broadcast, said her goal was to avoid coming across as just another Zoom presentation.
“This is an incredibly challenging year for so many in the arts across every discipline,” Maloney said. “But there is also still so much to celebrate.”
Noyes said Spokane Arts’ decision to go ahead with the celebration is important for the city. “Spokane Arts won’t let (COVID-19) stop them from honoring the remarkable organizations and individuals whose creativity and work make our city and the entire region a better place,” Noyes said. “I just want to be able to do all the nominees justice.”
Noyes, a Spokane Arts commissioner, has good reason to host Spokane Arts’ first online awards. The organization awarded a Spokane Arts Grant Award to local publisher Scabland Books last year to help fund the publication of Noyes’ recent book “Baby Speaks Salish: A Language Manual Inspired by One Family’s Effort to Raise a Salish Speaker.”
The SAGA program has been a boost to all kinds of artists and arts organizations over the past several years, resulting in dozens of emerging and established artists producing new works in the Spokane community.
Noyes has experience as a virtual host. A member of the Sinixt band of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, she hosted a virtual celebration for the Spokane Native American Community Graduation last spring.
“I have a hunch that is one of the main reasons they chose me to do this online event,” Noyes said. “But the arts awards will be a lot more high-tech.”
Lucky You Lounge co-owner Karli Ingersoll will be behind the scenes running the stream of videos and performances through the online platform Veeps. She plans to use the same platform to launch a concert series featuring local musicians at her venue this fall.
“The arts awards are a good way to try that out,” Ingersoll said. Ingersoll recommends going onto the Veeps website or Google your devices to figure out how to send the stream of the show from your computer or laptop onto your television for a more immersive experience. Google Chromecast is a common way to do it wirelessly, for example.
Here are the nominees for the 2020 Spokane Arts Awards:
For Imagination: Amber Hoit, Desmond Boston, Justin Frick, Leyna Krow, Nefabit, Robert Sletner, Shantell Jackson, Spartan Theatre, Susan Webber and Sylvia Fountaine
For Leadership: Ashley DeMoville, Bethany Taylor, Dean Cameron, Juan Mas, Marshall Peterson, One Heart Native Arts & Film Festival, Sam Moore, Sandra Williams, Spokane Public Radio, Spokane Chinese Association and Suzanne Ostersmith
For Collaboration: Caleb Ingersoll, Carl Richardson, Fall Folk Festival, Feast World Kitchen, Kate Vita, Morgan Walters, Ryker Beard, Seven2 & 14Four and Stage Left Theater
For Inclusion: Audrey Overstreet, Helen Parsons, Jeremy Whittington, June Sanders, Nickie Shek, Spokane Poetry Slam, Spokane Youth Symphony and Spokane Theater Arts Council
The Karen Mobley Impact Award will go to Kate Vita, who died in April.
As Spokane Arts celebrates, it also continues its mission to support artists, especially now. Last spring, the nonprofit asked for community donations to help give $500 in individual emergency grants to creatives needing relief as their planned gigs dried up and were canceled.
Through the CARES Act, the City of Spokane recently awarded $300,000 to Spokane Arts to distribute to artists and arts and cultural organizations needing support to keep going and to remain vibrant during this global pandemic. Organizations and artists can apply for those monies at spokanearts.org.
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