Much like our business meetings and friend hangouts, local festivals are going virtual as well. The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge’s Ebb & Flow Festival was supposed to be held in downtown Baton Rouge in early April. But when the COVID-19 shutdown happened, the Arts Council decided to postpone the two-day event.
Since then, Baton Rouge artists have struggled financially but have also been able to focus more on their crafts, according to Ebb & Flow Festival manager Mysti Byrnes. “It’s times of hardship that artists produce more art, and it’s so hard because we can’t interact like we usually do.”
While the Arts Council has held online events such as artist talks and tutorials to help engage the community, Byrnes says the team still felt there was a need for more opportunities for artists to interact with the public. And so, the Arts Council decided to turn Ebb & Flow into a largely virtual experience.
“A festival that I really looked to was Festival International in Lafayette,” Byrnes says. “They transformed a lot of their events into virtual performances but still kept some of their live aspects.”
Byrnes and the Arts Council hoped to create an experience that people could easily access from their own homes, while still being able to enjoy what the Baton Rouge arts community has to offer.
The festival kicks off Saturday, June 27, with Art Flow Junior. This combination live and virtual event features art from kids ages 8-18 on display at the Firehouse Gallery. Pictures of the art will also be showcased online, allowing guests to take a virtual tour from home.
On Sunday, June 28, the Art Flow Awards will stream online, announcing first, second and third place winners of the adult Art Flow competition. The works entered in the contest are on public view at the Capitol Park Museum, LSU Museum of Art and the Gallery at Manship Theatre in the Shaw Center until the end of June. You can view them online here, and vote for your favorite piece here.
The virtual events continue until July 4, with online performances from local musicians such as Justin Garner, Destiny Manzella and the Civic Orchestra of Baton Rouge; a family-friendly craft-making class with the Knock Knock Children’s Museum; a performance by Baton Rouge Ballet; a salsa dance class taught by Salsa Rouge and more.
On July 3, the festival will host a socially-distant live arts event at Pointe Marie featuring a drive-thru arts market, performances by Betsy Braud and local acrobatic troupe Bayou Cirque, and food trucks.
On July 4, Ebb & Flow will collaborate with local musicians and organizations for a virtual show and live fireworks to end the weeklong festivities.
“I’m hoping Ebb & Flow allows participants to feel closer to the artistic community,” Byrnes says. “My hope would be that the average Louisianan realizes how much art and culture we have right here, and how these artists not only need us during this time, but they’re still producing wonderful work—and they want to share it.”
Ebb & Flow will be held Saturday, June 27, through Saturday, July 4. View the full Ebb & Flow schedule here.