Online Arts Festival showcasing the work of Valley middle and high school students

Posted: 01/14/2021 13:30:24 PM

Musicians, actors, dancers and many other professional artists in the valley have been facing all kinds of hardship for almost a year now, as the pandemic has wiped out nearly all opportunities for live performances.

COVID-19 has also taken its toll on young budding artists here, denying them many opportunities to learn and develop their work.

But that doesn’t mean creativity is coming to an end – so now the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School and the Shea Theater are hosting what they call a “Virtual Valley Multi-Arts Festival” to showcase the work. middle and high school students. from all over the region.

The streaming festival will take place on Saturday, Jan. 16 starting at 7 p.m. and will include “more than 75 students from across the Pioneer Valley,” according to Emma Ayres, a theater professor at the PVPA and programming coordinator at the Shea Theater. This number includes students from Springfield, West Springfield, Westfield and other towns in Hampden County, as well as communities in Franklin County (and Hardwick in Worcester County).

The show, which is expected to last around 2.5 hours, will feature 18 separate performances, from music and poetry recitation to aerial acrobatics; there are also comedy sketches as well as on-tap visual art exhibits, Ayres wrote in an email. Performances will last between three and ten minutes or so, she noted.

Ayres and Charlotte Donovan, PVPA’s director of registrations and communications, say Saturday’s show is designed to show both the importance of the arts in general and the determination young people are showing not to let the pandemic prevent them from finding ways to express themselves or work with others.

PVPA student Arin Andrews, for example, writes that working during the pandemic caused them to “push the boundaries of what I thought was possible and look at the arts in new ways.” Virtual meetings, live concerts and weekly video releases were never something I had envisioned (live musical theater) … and it was extremely difficult but a once in a lifetime experience that taught me a lot .

And Alex Wilga, another PVPA student who is part of Saturday’s festival, notes that the show will ideally help demonstrate “that the art hasn’t stopped just because we can’t go anywhere safe.” We are still producing art, perhaps on an even larger scale now, despite a global pandemic. “

Tickets for the Multi-arts Festival are $ 5 for individuals, $ 10 for a family; viewers can also make contributions if they wish. A portion of the proceeds will go to fund various nonprofit arts organizations in the valley, according to PVPA.

Tickets can be ordered at