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BAAY at Home

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Despite the fact that the youth of America have been thrown the “biggest curveball of their generation,” Ian Bivins believes they will have a significant part to play in the post-pandemic world.

As the executive director of the Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth (BAAY), he’s gotten an up-close look at what happens when students are stuck at home away from physical interactions with friends, saddled with schoolwork delivered in an unfamiliar way, and struggling to come to terms with the disruption of their day-to-day lives—including taking classes or rehearsing for upcoming shows at the State Street creative hub.

Bivins says despite the barrage of hurdles, he’s finding that the youth he interacts with from afar are proving to be resilient as well as tech-savvy. And in this new reality, screen time is a must.

“They are still engaging in what may be the greatest coping mechanism of all—play,” he says. “This pandemic is forcing artists and nonprofits to reevaluate our options for existence. Sounds heavy, right? Yet I see young people exercising their agency to adapt to this new world. Who better to do it than these digital natives?”

To that end, students involved in previously planned showings of Fiddler on the Roof and Seussical the Musical are tuning in for group rehearsals using online tools such as YouTube and Zoom (performance dates TBD); signing up for a variety of online summer classes beginning this week such as Shakespeare 101, Theatre History, Singing for Musical Theatre, Theatre Tech, Dance for Musical Theatre, Monologue Fundamentals, and Artists in Academia; and participating in other BAAY at Home offerings such as free yoga and dance videos and prescheduled Zoom meetings focused on topics including upcycling crafts, ukulele lessons, story time and “Impressions with Ian.”

“The last one is a drop-in class I have begun to host on Wednesdays at noon,” Bivins says. “Basically, I take students through the fundamentals of creating character, where we hone in on the finer points of a target character. Me? I’m all about Christopher Walken.”

And for potential students and adults interested in what the Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth has to offer—or for those looking to recapture the magic of live performance—BAAY at Home also offers shows of the week featuring free screenings of prior full-length productions including The Stinky Cheese Man (2014), The Firebird (2019), and The Skylark (2016).

I viewed the latter a few days ago, and found that in addition to being thoroughly entertained by local playwright and musician Steve Barnes’ original tale of a civilization that has achieved hard-won peace only to find itself back on the brink of calamity, I also found many life lessons to be gleaned from its watching.

Bivins says that’s not a mistake.

“Everything we put onstage, or through our other educational programs, strives to fulfill our mission—‘to enrich the lives of children through the exploration of the arts,’” he says. “We are here to teach skills and offer tools, but most importantly, we are here to foster growth in character, confidence, creativity and community.”

That final bullet point is an important one. Without support from the citizens it serves, BAAY wouldn’t exist. As a small nonprofit that pays for its physical space and incurs additional expenditures every time it books a show for its students to perform, Bivins says donations are key to its survival.

“There are so many expenses that we don’t like to broadcast but are very real,” Bivins says. “The kids we serve through our EduArts work at elementary schools and through our scholarship programs—really, all students—need access to the arts now more than ever, and we are determined to keep fulfilling our mission to help kids make it through this stressful time with creative outlets. Our organization depends on generous support from our community.”

That said, BAAY continues to provide scholarships and barter arrangements to any student or family who needs it, as it has for the nearly 15 years since it started offering arts education to the youth of Bellingham and Whatcom County.

Along with outside support, Bivins stresses the importance of students also supporting each other.

“I truly hope that our students will embrace the idea that the cultivation of craft can continue to grow in a new way,” he stresses. “We want our students to stay connected to each other and to us, to find support in relationships and to keep creating together. The reality here is that we won’t be able to see each other in person for a while. So we are embracing new ways of learning together and supporting each other as a community through all of this.”

For more details about upcoming classes and featured events, go to http://www.baay.org/theatre/register or http://www.baay.org/green/at-home

UPCOMING EVENTS

[Wed., May 13]

A SHAYNA MAIDEL: At 7pm, Western Washington University presents a live stream of Barbara Lebow’s play A Shayna Maidel—a story of survivors, family and honesty in the lasting shadows of the Holocaust. A cast and crew of WWU students will bring the story to life via a stage-reading-style performance directed by Lamby Hedge. The show was originally scheduled to be performed live, but due to the spread of COVID-19 was forced to cancel. To be part of the one-time-only performance, request access to the stream at the email below.
For more info: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

[Fri., May 15

VAUDE-VIDEO-HAM: The members of the Bellingham Circus Guild may not be able to share their talents in person this month at their spacious 6th Street Cirque Lab, but the monthly uncensored open stage fundraiser will nevertheless continue starting at 7pm via a “Vaude-VIDEO-ham” watch party featuring a montage of everything from aerial performances to dance, comedy, magic, juggling, burlesque and more. Although entry to the virtual gathering is free, the ongoing event is designed as a fundraiser with a $5-$10 suggested donation. “If you feel inspired to support the Bellingham Circus Guild while we all weather this storm there is a donation button on the bottom of the front page of our website,” organizers say.
For more info: http://www.bellinghamcircusguild.com

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Persistence of Light

11:00am

Whatcom County Library System hosts a virtual presentation with The Persistence of Light author John Hoyte at 11am on Zoom. In the memoir, Hoyte recounts his uncommon life…

Leo Osborne at Scott Milo Gallery

11:00am

Painter and sculptor Leo Osborne’s works will be featured from 11am-5pm Wednesdays through Sundays through May in Anacortes at the Scott Milo Gallery, 420 Commercial Ave. Osborne presents his…

Fragile Ecology

11:00am

Painter Clayton Marsh’s one-man show, “Fragile Ecology: Land. People. Harmonies,” can be seen from 11am-6pm daily through May (closed Tuesdays) in Mount Vernon at Perry and Carlson Gallery,…

Spring Into Art

11:00am

View works by Stanwood-Camano Arts Guild members from 11am-5pm Wed.-Sat. in Stanwood at A Guilded Gallery, 8700 271st St. NW. A “Spring Into Art” regional juried art show can be seen through…

Light Catchers Photography Exhibit

11:00am

“Light Catchers: Five Photographers from the Skagit” can be seen from 11am-5pm Fridays through Sundays through May 30 in Edison at i.e. gallery, 5800 Caines Court. In this exhibit, David…

Whatcom Art Market

11:00am

Works by as many as 45 Whatcom Art Guild members can be viewed from 11am-5pm Tuesdays through Sundays at Whatcom Art Market, 1103 11th St.

Spring Juried Exhibit and More

12:00pm

A “Spring Juried Exhibit,” “Winter Textile Explorations,” Lisa McShane’s “A Decade of Landscapes,” and Ron Pattern’s “The Seasonal Forest” can be viewed from 12pm-4:30pm Thursdays through…

Share Spot

12:00pm

Birchwood Food Desert Fighters hosts a Share Spot from 12pm-2pm Saturdays offering free food to take or share and in the parking lot of the Industrial Credit Union, 3233 Northwest Ave.…

Seeds of Culture at Whatcom Museum

12:00pm

View “Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Voices of Native American Women,” “Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest,” “Jac Trautman: The Specter of the Indigenous,”…

Rebel Artists of Whatcom County

3:00pm

A variety of artists and artisans sell their creative wares at the Rebel Artists of Whatcom Art Market from 3pm-6pm every Saturday at downtown Bellingham’s Commercial Street Plaza, 1315…

Family Book Group

4:00pm

Kids in grades K-5 and their families are invited to register for a Family Book Group from 4pm-5pm via Zoom. The event is led by Whatcom County Library System youth staff, and features a…