Four Corners Performing Artist Relief
As concerts, events, gigs, and festivals continue to be postponed, rescheduled, and cancelled in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak, professional musicians and performing artists have plenty of reasons to stress about the state of their bank accounts. Marketing director for local nonprofit iAM MUSIC Institute Sam Kelly Music Business, ’13) understands well the challenges presented to the regional arts community, so he jumped to action to launch the Four Corners Performing Artist Relief Fund. The GoFundMe page has so far raised more than $5,000 to help musicians navigate the financial woes brought about by the pandemic.
Kelly not only works as an instructor for iAM MUSIC but also puts his saxophone savvy to work performing and touring with local bands J-Calvin, Elder Grown, Afrobeatniks, The Funk Express, Snazzy Licks, and other bands passing through the region. He looks forward to getting back to the stage but until then is proud to help create something that contributes to the health of the community.
“Dwelling on things you can’t change is wasted energy,” says Kelly. “Just start small, focus on what you can control, and build from there.”
4 The Children
One of the most devastating consequences of COVID-19 is the spike in domestic violence and child abuse cases around the world. For many children who typically find refuge at school or after-school programs, the shelter-in-place orders provide anything but protection. As executive director of 4 the Children, a nonprofit serving abused and neglected children in Southwest Colorado, Ashley Hein (Theatre, ’04) is aware these kids need support now more than ever.
With April as Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month, Hein transitioned 4TC’s fundraising efforts from in-person soirees to Planting Hope, a virtual campaign focused on protecting “childhood today for stronger families tomorrow.” She believes that helping even one child break the cycle of violence and become a better parent, stronger leader, and more productive member of society makes the program worth the effort and resources.
“These are trying times for everyone and perhaps the hardest thing to accept is that we truly have no control over what happens,” says Hein. “The key is to just keep going, keep your head up, and know that things will get better.”
As a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Kristi Newbold (Exercise Science, ’10) sees caring for her community throughout the pandemic as simply part of her job. At the onset of the virus outbreak in Colorado, all therapists on staff at St. Anthony North Health Campus, a 93-bed hospital in Westminster, Colorado, were trained and certified to become nursing assistants to help care providers on the COVID floor.
Newbold was no exception, juggling her supervisor duties in the rehabilitation department while also working as a patient care aid, screener at the hospital entrance, as well as front office and incident command center support staff. She’s proud of how her hospital community shifted so quickly to address these unprecedented times while working hard to keep each other’s spirits lifted.
“Patients are my biggest inspiration,” says Newbold. “In the face of adversity, they just keep going, and we just give them the nudge they need to recover. It is an amazing feeling to help someone who has been on a ventilator sit up for the first time, eventually take their first steps, and hopefully walk out the front doors. It’s like Dory says, ‘just keep swimming.’”
Hand Sanitizer Superman
While singing the Happy Birthday song helps hand washers stay on the hygienic high road, hand sanitizer is still a vital player in helping communities stay healthy. When bottles became scarce across the state, one business model was supremely set up to sweep in with a little succor.
“We can’t do anything about the toilet paper shortage, but distillers are uniquely able to address the shortage of hand sanitizer,” says P.T. Wood (Business Administration, ’90).
The Salida mayor and cofounder of Wood’s High Mountain Distillery joined three other Chaffee County businesses to put their industrial resources to work. While Wood contributed 150 gallons of grain spirits, Pure Greens cannabis facility donated part of their isopropyl alcohol inventory, and Elevation Beer Company provided hydrogen peroxide. Poncha Springs’ Pursell Manufacturing Corp., the largest manufacturer of Christmas tree supplies in the world, provided glycerin as well as eight-ounce bottles and an automated bottling line to speed up the packaging process for the sanitizer.
The collaboration produced and distributed more than 4,000 bottles across the region. All four companies are looking forward to once again generating their respective indulgences and getting excited for Christmas.
Theatre to the Rescue
When live performances started dropping like flies, Bradley Abeyta (ATT ’11 - ‘14) jumped to action, corralling his fellow creatives to form the COVID-19 Theatrical Response Team, a Denver and Zoom-based theatre company.
The first show hit the free, virtual stage on March 26 and the volunteer group of more than 60 actors, writers, and directors has since live-streamed a play a week, not including a collaborative, nation-wide, three-day theatre festival they created with Dramatic Distancing.
“We’ve just reinforced the idea that social distancing does not mean that we’re isolated,” Abeyta said in a recent Denverite interview.
Instead of sitting around a table reading a script, the actors appear in their Zoom tiles, enduring poor internet connections, computers overheating, and the inevitable distractions buzzing in the background (we’re looking at you, kids). The team relishes the similarities of virtual theatre to live theatre, where problems must be addressed on the fly and improv is sometimes required.
Abeyta and the COVID-19 Theatrical Response Team have shown that it’s not only possible but paramount to build community in the face of these wild times. Because no matter what the future holds, the show must go on.