Photo: Peter Skoggard
While my expertise is in classical music and styling the performers, I’ve always been a huge fan of the “Lifestyle” section of any newspaper. What’s trending in food, fashion, and any aspect of relating to others?
Well, right now, COVID19 is trending, and will continue to do so, for a while yet. In this series, I’m speaking to people who are figuring out ways to prevail during the pandemic. Today I’m chatting with Laura Adlers, Culture Manager and Producer, specializing in choirs.
Ontario officially shut down on March 17, 2020. How was your business or career going before then? I was pretty busy with government contracts in Ottawa, while also working as Artistic Administrator for The Elora Singers and the Elora Festival. Artistic Director Mark Vuorinen and I put together a fabulous festival line-up for three weeks this July and I had booked a five-concert tour and workshops for the choir to Ottawa and Montreal. We were on such a high, so excited about our summer plans. I dodged a bad snowstorm on February 28 to move from Gatineau to Guelph to start my new job as Interim Executive Director of these organizations. By March 6, the only thing on our minds was COVID-19, social distancing and the possibility of shutting down for an indefinite period of time. It all seemed to happen overnight. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, no doubt about it.
How has your business or career changed since March 17, 2020? The cultural sector has, of course, been devastated by this pandemic. I could never have imagined our industry could fall so silent, that so many artists and arts organizations could suddenly be so vulnerable. My heart goes out to the members of The Elora Singers. They are always top of mind and I would love nothing more then to hear them sing live again! The last three months have been spent primarily doing three things: contingency planning, lots of Zoom calls for any number of reasons, and learning a lot about digital platforms! We have postponed the Elora Festival, but are working on revised programs and creative projects to stay engaged with our donors and audience members. We just launched The Elora Singers’ new CD “This Love Between Us” online last week. That was a first! (on sale now through our website!)
Let’s talk about how you’re doing. We’re all looking for coping mechanisms – what are yours? I feel very fortunate to have landed in this beautiful part of the country in springtime. My rare trips out for supplies turn into driving adventures in the countryside, and everything is transforming into bursts of colour right now. I am a Baltic country girl at heart, so spending time in nature is very important! I also check in with my family regularly and can’t wait for the day we can all gather for a lovely meal and great conversation.
Have you found a way to “help with the cause”, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you? I make a point of supporting the many local businesses in the village of Elora, most of whom have found ingenious ways of staying open during the shutdown with curbside pick-up and delivery service. I am also buying directly from local farmers. Local produce is the best! And of course, I make sure to thank everyone I meet who is working to ensure we can access the help and supplies we need. No one asked for this. I really feel for all of them and am so grateful they are there for all of us.
What advice to give others going through a hard time right now? Many people are working from home now, others have lost their jobs, social distancing is a challenge. Many people I talk to tell me how draining it is to adjust to this “new normal”, both at work and at home. The news of the past couple of weeks has been especially difficult. It’s really important to check in with others, for your own mental health and to support your neighbours, family and friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And get outside! Nature and sunlight are great healers. It’s the little things that are going to help us get through this. And, of course, we all need the arts. Listen to some great music and support the artists who are performing online. They miss their audiences as much as we miss them.
Follow Laura on Facebook @ Laura Adlers and Twitter and Instagram @AdlersLaura .