Live arts and culture was so sorely missed

Arts of all mediums were in the spotlight this weekend as communities across Ontario held their own version of Culture Days.

Here in Greater Napanee was no different as the town drama, art and music were all showcased at dozens of venues throughout the region all day Saturday.

For many it was a sight for sore eyes, both for performers and patrons of the arts. Live entertainment was among the first things to be halted during the pandemic and remains one of the last things to resume as we move into the post-COVID world. Arts and entertainment may not qualify as ‘essential’ in the traditional sense of the word, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. These last two years have taught us all a certain appreciation of what we had, and the arts would most certainly qualify as top among a lot of people’s lists of things that were taken for granted prior to the pandemic. While we may not need music or a breathtaking landscape painting to keep us alive in the same way as food and water, they certainly add a dash of colour to the world and make life a lot more vibrant.

Just as audience members have been left wanting during the pandemic, the same can be said for the people who make sing the songs or perform the scenes that the audience members missed so dearly. For many artists, sharing their gifts to a room full of people is a therapy unlike any other. While this writer may not have any musical talent, having been married to a fiddle player for nine years now, it has become abundantly clear how important it is for a musician to have a place to practice and share their gifts. A stage and audience were hard to come by at the height of the pandemic and while virtual performances were better than nothing-they were far from being as good as the real deal.

On that same (musical) note, it was encouraging to see St. Mary Magdalene’s Harmony Lounge and Music Club officially launch last week. The new venture promises to be a safe place for students aged 11-16 to learn a wide assortment of musical skills from vocal to drums and everything in between. Perhaps the club will be where the next Avril Lavigne or Tragically Hip gets introduced to music. Or maybe it’ll simply be a place for kids to learn a new hobby. Either way, it’ll be huge benefit to the community, giving the youth one more place to express themselves and discover one of their gifts. As great as athletic clubs are, they’re not for everyone. For too long there has been a major gap in this area for students wishing to pursue music. Hopefully this new venture is just the start of something bigger.

The volunteers working behind the scenes to bring that initiative to reality deserve a lot of credit. As was mentioned during the official launch of the club, providing musical opportunities for kids make for a well-rounded student. A well-rounded community is sure to be a benefit for all.

-Adam Prudhomme

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