Performing arts go virtual during virus outbreak

The show goes on with the Kennedy Center's Digital Stage. During the coronavirus pandemic the...
The show goes on with the Kennedy Center's Digital Stage. During the coronavirus pandemic the National Culture Center is offering digital programming. (Source: Gray DC)(GRAYDC)
Published: May. 15, 2020 at 11:25 AM EDT
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They say, ‘the whole world is a stage,’ but in the wake of COVID-19 many artists are struggling to make ends meet.

Now, performers and cultural organizations from across the country are finding new ways to promote the arts.

“Everybody’s plays for the next season, their internships; they are done,” said theatre artist Bridget Christine Kelly.

Kelly is a performer and costumer from Wisconsin. Like many artists, she’s struggling to maintain steady work during this pandemic.

“What do we do next?” she asked.

Rae Robeson, a dance teacher out of Chicago, can relate.

“I went from teaching 15 classes a week, to teaching 3 classes a week at pay what you can, “ said Robeson.

Now, both artists are going digital to keep up with their craft; teaching, auditioning and performing online.

The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C is one organization that’s offering digital programming that anyone can view right from the comfort of home.

“As the nation’s preforming arts center, how can we elevate the work of great communities who are using the arts for entertainment, for change, and for learning?” said Kennedy Center Senior Vice President of Artistic Planning Robert van Leer.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is the United States National Cultural Center created by an act of Congress. It was named in 1964 as a memorial to President John F. Kennedy.

Robert van Leer says the digital programming is meant to inspire; to connect artist with audience during isolation. But, he says, some of the programming will still be available when the pandemic is over.

“Before COVID, we tended to think about digital here and live over there,” said van Leer. “Really what it is, is it can be a fully integrated world.”

According to Robeson, the situation hasn't all been bad.

“The kids, it’s so sweet,” said Robeson. “They still wear tutus for ballet class; they still get in ballet shoes.”

The ‘digital stage’ might be here to stay but, there’s no doubt when the crisis is over, the curtain will rise again.

“It’s so fun to watch theatre from the comfort of your own home,” said Kelly. “But it does make you miss the live performances.”

Both Kelly and Robeson are unaffiliated with the Kennedy Center, but both artists say they support the program.

It’s important to note, the Kennedy Center did receive funding from the congressional coronavirus stimulus package. To find some of these digital resources, you can visit

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