During the coronavirus shutdown, most arts groups are exploring online programming. City of Asylum is rolling out what it calls the region’s first shared programming channel.
Monday, the nonprofit will debut The Show Must Go On(line), a streaming channel for its own offerings as well as work curated by partners around the city, including City Theater, the New Hazlett Theater, and the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater. The shows – live, prerecorded, or a mix of the two – will air nightly five days a week, with everything from literary readings and discussions to music and dance. Viewing is free.
“The goal is to bring arts organizations together to work together, to continue connecting artists and audiences, and to continue building community and expand the community around the arts even at this time,” said City of Asylum Director of Programs Abby Lembersky.
City Asylum is known for hosting its own programs at Alphabet City, on the North Side – some 170 nights of readings, music and more last year, said Lembersky. (It also continues to pursue its founding mission, to shelter writers persecuted in their home countries.) But like every other arts venue in most of the country, it’s been shut down since mid-March. Lembersky said The Show Must Go On(line) was a way to continue both its own programming and its practice of providing performance space to other nonprofits.
The channel launches Monday with “Balkan Blues Music,” by Italian pianist Claudio Cojaniz, who’ll explore lullabies and sacred songs handed down by his grandfather, with Cojaniz’s “jazzy twist,” said Lembersky. Most of the 45-minute show will be highlights from Cojaniz’s November concert at Alphabet City, but it will also include an interview with him from his home, in Italy, and a “mini-concert” of new music.
Other week-one shows include “The Avant Garde,” part of City of Asylum’s Off Minor Jazz Series; a reading from City Theatre’s upcoming Momentum festival of new plays; a concert by local singer-songwriter Brittney Chantele, courtesy of the New Hazlett; and a dance performance by slowdanger and Jasmine Hearn, via the Kelly-Strayhorn.
Other groups scheduled to contribute programming in May include the Bell’ Artes Ensemble, BOOM Concepts, Real/Time Interventions, and the River City Brass Band.
Lembersky said the channel is backed by local funders who liked the project’s collaborative nature. She said The Show Must Go On(line) will continue as coronavirus restrictions are relaxed. When City of Asylum staff and small groups of artists are permitted to gather, and comfortable doing so, the group will begin to broadcast live performances from its Alphabet City stage. “We’re aiming for beginning of June for that work to happen,” she said.
WESA receives funding from City of Asylum.