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Santa Fe New Mexican - CONNECT - 2021-03-28

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THE TOUGH GO... ONLINE

PROM THE

BY PAMELA BEACH

Santa Fe’s economy, historically dependent on tourist dollars, dried up significantly over the past year due to pandemic-induced quarantines and social distancing. The March 13, 2020, Pasatiempo calendar published a note on the front page, alerting readers to contact venues and businesses to confirm that events were still scheduled. A year later, 99 percent of the events listed in the calendar are virtual. To survive during these unprecedented times, event venues, galleries, restaurants and other enterprises have increased their online presence to help offset monetary losses. For instance, the Teatro Paraguas theater company utilizes Zoom to present one-act and spoken-word performances for remote audiences to watch from the comfort and safety of their homes. According to Argos MacCallum, executive director of Paraguas, virtual performances have been enthusiastically received. “People have been donating more in the end-of-year donations as well as donations at each performance,” MacCallum wrote in an email. In addition, the company has been able to hire actors from anywhere and has enjoyed an expanded audience (some from as far away as Wales). As for the future, MacCallum has doubts about continuing virtual experiences after the pandemic ends. “I think Zoom theater is a form which will endure as a genre, sort of like the graphic novel or possibly melodrama,” he wrote, but “how much Paraguas will pursue Zoom theater after venues open again is not clear.” The Lensic Performing Arts Center, which closed its doors early in 2020, continues to expand its free online offerings (lensic.org/lensic-online/). These include the Ghost Light Sessions, which are on-demand videos of local artists, such as violinist David Felberg and flamenco dancer La Emi, performing on stage in the darkened theater. “Restoring public events is obviously a priority, as our audiences are eager for the shared experiences and the excitement of live performance,” Lensic executive director Joel Aalberts noted in an email. “That said, our work during the pandemic has taught us a lot about using media to reach new and underserved audiences. I expect we will continue to expand this work long after our doors are reopened.” AMP Concerts, a nonprofit events promoter, has posted virtual performances on its website. These include Postcards from Santa Fe, one-song videos of local artists performing at iconic locations around town. AMP also showcases New Mexico musicians, who have been hit hard by COVID constraints, in live-streamed performances filmed at the Albuquerque Museum in conjunction with current exhibits. All Santa Fe’s state museums and several local galleries have reopened their doors, yet they continue to maintain expanded digital options to improve and encourage visitor accessibility. According to Warren Keating, president of the Santa Fe Gallery Association, many galleries and art institutions in Santa Fe are seeing brisk sales during the pandemic even though foot traffic is significantly reduced. “Most of the more-established galleries in Santa Fe pivoted quickly, adding new features on their websites, like viewing rooms, virtual shows and appointment visits,” Keating wrote in an email. “Many of these additions have proven over time to be great marketing tools that will last beyond the pandemic.” Restaurants have certainly borne the brunt of social-distancing restrictions. Last year, in accordance with state regulations, Santa Fe-area restaurants eliminated indoor dining, challenging owners to reinvent dining experiences. Santa Fe Bite and Dr. Field Goods Kitchen posted limited menus for online or phone ordering, with easy curbside pickup. Paloma’s offered Saturday Suppers (three preset courses for a fixed price) to expand takeout options. Restaurant Martín’s Santa Fe Build-A-Bowl to-go option has been successful enough to continue through the end of March while the restaurant remains closed. Hannah d’Errico, manager of Arroyo Vino Restaurant & Wine Shop, said that the restaurant immediately pivoted to to-go offerings when indoor dining was off the table. Due to amazing support from the community, that move was successful enough to keep all restaurant employees working over the past year. As of this writing, COVID cases are dropping in New Mexico and indoor dining has resumed at 25 percent capacity. No doubt grateful diners will return, with gusto, to enjoy meals at their favorite establishments. The Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association aggressively switched to virtual platforms during the pandemic. In a recent text, Miles Conway, the association’s executive officer, said, “We certainly raised the bar in 2020 with the virtual Parade [of Homes] and built some new muscles for how our members showcase their work during this pandemic. In 2021 we are planning for an in-person parade this August. However, some of our builders actually prefer the virtual platform and see more value in that style of showcase for their businesses. In addition to the traditional in-person event, we’re incorporating the virtual element as a permanent element of our efforts to showcase our members’ trade craft.” The association will host a virtual Remodelers’ Showcase on May 15, supported by an in-person, outdoor Builders’ Rendezvous. What’s emerged over the past year is a mix of digital experiences augmenting a gradual return to on-site events. The long view for promoting Santa Fe’s businesses may include continued investment in enhanced websites, e-commerce platforms and social media to meet the needs of consumers now accustomed to digital alternatives. Pamela Beach is the calendar editor for “Pasatiempo,” the arts and entertainment magazine of “The Santa Fe New Mexican.”

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