Icicle Creek showing us new ways to create community in NCW, in response to pandemic
Icicle Creek Center for the Arts is creating powerful new experiences for audiences in North Central Washington and beyond by livestreaming concerts and also rehearsals. Thanks to the teamwork of marketing manager Mason Elliott and technical director Eric Frank, the nonprofit is delivering an almost unheard-of level of audio and visual quality for these events.
As I write this column, I’m listening to a livestreamed rehearsal for an upcoming concert that is part of the ICCA Virtual Chamber Music Festival. Having the opportunity to tune in to the rehearsal is a new experience and I am finding quite engaging to listen to the artists discuss the music and what they are trying to work on prior to the concert.
What excites me the most is seeing how a local nonprofit like ICCA is using the opportunity of the coronavirus pandemic to think creatively about how to serve their mission of enhancing the arts and delivering arts education in our valley.
None of us knows what the post-coronavirus world is going to look like, but it seems clear that businesses and nonprofits will not go back to business-as-usual anytime soon. ICCA, in my view, is taking the lemons of the pandemic and doing an impressive job of making lemonade.
I had a videoconference last week with Elliott, ICCA Executive Director Rebecca Ryker and Director of Philanthropy and Engagement Colin Brine to learn how they are responding to the unprecedented challenges. ICCA’s business model has been based on live performances, music education delivered in person and other arts-related camps and workshops.
Even though live performances cannot be held at ICCA’s Snowy Owl Theater and Canyon Wren Recital Hall, artists still wanted to come to the campus adjacent to Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort. So, they took the approach of livestreaming performances and rehearsals using multiple cameras to create a rich, sensory experience rather than a static, one-camera view. For now, these performances are free to the public and they are getting significantly large audiences both locally and across the country.
This was part of an overall strategy of using the opportunity of the pandemic to spread encouragement, hope and joy to the community, explained Elliott, who is a Cashmere native who graduated from Central Washington University a few years ago.
It started with Daily Art Dose emails and social media posts to ICCA patrons with positive messages and insights, and then led to creating an enhanced livestream experience for music lovers in the valley. Conversations with the artists after the performance are being hosted virtually by Christina Dahl, who is on the faculty of Stony Brook University.
The economics of local arts organizations are challenging in the best of times, and the same is true for Icicle Creek Center for the Arts.
How Ryker, Brine, Elliott and the board of directors are leaning into these challenging economic and social times impressed me. They are not waiting around hoping that things will go back to the way they were. Instead, they are taking bold steps to reinvent the organization to be relevant in a fluid and changing world by embodying the Stoic philosophy that Teddy Roosevelt made famous with the saying, “do what you can, with what you have where you are.” I cannot think of a more powerful mindset than that.
Ryker sees the potential for using the lessons they are learning and the technology they are utilizing to create an impact in the valley beyond the arts, which I think is brilliant outside-the-box thinking.
ICCA is doing a powerful job of building audience and setting the stage for delivering concerts and other programs that may soon be delivered both life and via livestreaming so that they are not limited by who can attend the event at a particular place and time. You can check out their programs at icicle.org.
ICCA is raising $75,000 in its Light the Path effort this summer to replace income lost to the coronavirus. Join me in supporting that effort.