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Arts United STL: Virtual Benefit Gives Local Artists a Chance to Perform Again

“What is this going to look like for musicians, for our careers?” St. Louis Symphony Orchestra cellist Bjorn Ranheim asked SLSO Creative Partner Tim Munro during a recent phone call, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s sobering.”

That sentiment is shared by many people in arts communities in the St. Louis region and throughout the world. And it’s not just musicians. Every corner of culture and the arts has been impacted by the pandemic and the ensuing cancellation of live performances. Instrumentalists, singers, dancers, actors—it’s a challenge to think of a profession in the arts world that hasn’t seen a radical change in creative expression for the public.

But there is hope.

As Bjorn told Tim, “People are seeking out all kinds of artforms, and people are putting together beautiful statements on what music means to them.”

Artists crave to share their talents with audiences and patrons are eager to partake in art they enjoy, as well as support artists who bring the power of the arts to their lives. A virtual benefit concert aims to fulfill both needs.

Arts United STL is a joint effort by more than a dozen St. Louis-area arts and cultural institutions to bring a variety of performances virtually to audiences that haven’t been able to enjoy them in person in weeks. The benefit will take place on Sunday, May 31, at 7:00pm at various venues and be broadcast online and on television. The benefit also aims to raise funds for emergency assistance to artists whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic.

The Regional Arts Commission (RAC) established the Artist Relief Fund on April 1 to help working artists who have lost income due to the pandemic. So far, the fund has distributed $136,500 in direct support to more than 130 artists and will resume accepting new relief applications once additional funds have been secured. Arts United STL hopes to supplement the fund with 1,000 individual donations.

Produced by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in partnership with the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) and the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, performances will include 14 other arts organizations, including the SLSO: The Big Muddy Dance Company, The Black Rep, Circus Flora, COCA, Jazz St. Louis, Metro Theater Company, The Muny, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Saint Louis Ballet, St. Louis Children’s Choirs, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, The Sheldon, STAGES St. Louis, and the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis.

SLSO musicians and singers from the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Gerdine Young Artist Program will present a combined performance of “Make Our Garden Grow” from the Leonard Bernstein’s operetta Candide.

Arts United STL will take place at 7:00pm, Sunday, May 31.

There are several ways to view the benefit:

· On YouTube: Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

· HEC-TV: Channel 989 (Spectrum) or Channel 99 (AT&T U-Verse) in St. Louis and St. Louis County


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