Once it was clear the COVID-19 would radically change how we conducted our mission the CFCArts team pivoted aggressively to virtual offerings. Within 48 hours, we had changed direction and began our phases of virtual programming. Over the past 70+ days of quarantine we have learned A LOT, sustained our staff, reached new members, remained viable and sustainable and have had a little fun in changing up the “what” and “how” of our offerings.
The true take away from this experience is the continued realization that the arts are essential. All types of people continue to crave arts experiences and it’s our mission to find the best way to bring it to them.
We have learned and implemented the following best practices:
Technology – Many of our members are seniors or parents who don’t have a ton of time to learn something new. Our strategy has been one of understanding and patience. With seniors, it is all about respect and explanation of the purpose of the new tech. They want to be successful in learning something new, but all the apps, emails, passwords are overwhelming. We made “how to guides” with pictures and scheduled 1:1 with members to help them set up platforms such as Google Hangouts and Zoom. We saw tremendous success within our Senior programs and received feedback about how not only they could attend our class, but now also see their grandkids.
Virtual Burn Out – With all work and play online it is hard to get away from your computer. Our best solution is a balance of offerings. Not everyone wants something to do every night. So programming workshops and classes for different demographics at different times of day (and not everyday) has lightened the stress of burn out.
Programming – Our best method has been offering a variety of classes and workshops in order to reach as many people as we can. We seperate offerings by age, experience levels, and best times of day. We have created different series such as “Daily Arts” a series of classes for Pre-K – 5th grade so they don’t lose out on the arts at the end of the school year. We also expanded our Senior Programming, “Arts In Action.” Additionally we started an “Everyday Arts” series which are classes for anyone regardless of experience level and “Family Arts” classes for kids to do with their grownup. For our more experienced demographic we started “The Artist Toolbox” which is a masterclass series for aspiring and professional artists.
Accessibility – Our mission is to make the arts affordable and accessible to all. We know that this is a financially challenging time for many. So, we instituted a “Pay What You Will” plan for our workshops with a $5.50 minimum. This has been a very successful approach! Some pay the minimum and others pay way above it. Also, we were able to reallocate money from some of our grants to provide specific programming at no cost. Programs such as the “Daily Arts” classes are reaching over 100 families a week and it’s because it’s a quality program offered for free!
Silver Linings – An important reminder for our team is finding the silver linings. What was something amazing that you helped create this week? Celebrating the small successes helps us maintain a positive workspace and feel invigorated to work through the more challenging moments.
Other offerings have been nightly virtual concerts from homes of artists and community music therapy while also engaging program partnerships and artists of all ages in hangouts and virtual rehearsals.
Our theatre program has even had a time to sing challenge with new songs being written, a time to act challenge with podcast theatre of Shakespeare and a time to write challenge with 70 new plays submitted to CFCArts.
Founder & Executive Director
Central Florida Community Arts
407.937.1800 x 715