For Immediate Release
Washington Revels Continues Building Community for DC in the Face of COVID-19
Free Daily Sing-Alongs and Service Projects Connect across Social Distancing
Silver Spring, MD, April 30, 2020 – To ease the burden of self-isolation restrictions, Washington Revels is carrying out its mission to “create community through celebration” by redesigning programs for video conferencing. The 35-year-old DC performing arts community’s offerings are built on active participation. Two-way interaction of audience members with Washington Revels’ performers and with each other is a key element that draws people to Revels events, and it is something that Revels has worked to preserve even as the pandemic has forced the performing arts online.
As Executive Director Greg Lewis says, “The impact of a Revels program is the shared experience with people of all ages and backgrounds coming together to sing, dance, share stories, and feel connected. So as COVID-19 forced us to look at other options for offering programs, one-way videos of performances didn’t seem like enough. At Revels we want to connect people with people. And since we couldn’t bring people together physically, video conferencing was really the only way to go.”
Washington Revels has launched a new program designed specifically with video conferencing in mind: Daily Antidotes of Song connects people at noon each day for a song led by a guest artist. “There’s nothing that can replace singing together in the same room,” says Revels Community Engagement Director Jo Rasi. “But even though participants have to mute themselves in order to sing along with the song leaders, that feeling of connection, of seeing the faces of people singing with you, has been powerful for all involved.” Daily Antidotes of Song not only serves DC-area residents, but has also attracted participants and artists from around the world, including folksinger Peggy Seeger (England), piano/fiddle duo Elvie Miller and Dennis Liddy (Ireland) and Nicholas Williams of the French-Canadian band Genticorum.
Revels has shifted several of its regular programs online as well, including the monthly Carpe Diem Arts-Washington Revels Community Sing, which expanded into a virtual Earth Day Festival during the month of April. Revels has also continued chorus rehearsals and spring after-school workshops via video meetings. Even its monthly Day of Service program has continued remotely as volunteers make “Thank You” cards for healthcare workers, with the option to video chat with each other while crafting.
To move several activities online quickly, the Revels staff has remained open to experimentation and has been proactive about asking participants for feedback and suggestions, even from the youngest participants. Longtime after-school workshop teaching artist Christine Alexander notes, “I’m thrilled to be getting ideas from our students as we invent new ways of ‘reveling’ together from our homes. We’re being creative when it comes to learning new songs, crafting, playing, and storytelling.” From reimagining children’s classes to bringing people together across distance with song, Revels is helping the DC region grow in new ways as a community during the pandemic.
Upcoming virtual events include the Daily Antidotes of Song (12 noon EDT); the monthly Community Sing on May 21 (and on the 21st of every month); and Day of Service — now “Month” of Service during the remote card-making project in May. These online programs will continue until it is safe to gather in person again. Participation is free, and more details are at www.RevelsDC.org.
Founded in 1983, Washington Revels is a multi-generational performing arts community of professionals and nonprofessionals that presents traditional music, dance, storytelling, and drama in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. It produces after-school workshops, community participation events, and performances year round, including May Revels each spring and The Christmas Revels each December.
Press Contact: Ross Wixon, Marketing & Development Director / firstname.lastname@example.org / (202) 253-0449
Virtual Event Summaries:
Monthly Community Sings
- The Carpe Diem Arts-Washington Revels Community Sing meets on the 21st of every month. Each month’s musical focus changes as we honor the seasons, the holidays, social movements and historic figures, and National Heritage months. In addition to featured guest artists who represent the culture or theme being celebrated, community members also bring and lead songs. In-person Community Sings occur at Seekers Church in Takoma, DC, and always include refreshments and social time, serving as a community gathering space. Even though there’s no shared food in our ongoing virtual Community Sings, being present in the video room and sharing time and music together has been a powerful experience for participants.
- April 21 – Earth Day Festival & Community Sing (recent special event): On the eve of Earth Day, the Carpe Diem-Revels Community Sing transformed into a virtual festival featuring a dozen local, national and international performers as well as guest speakers, including Denis Hayes, the co-founder of Earth Day. The video room had over 100 participants, with an additional 4,000+ views on Facebook Live.
April/May Month of Service
- The Washington Revels “Day of Service” volunteer program connects Revelers with under-served members of our community. Past activities have included meal service and singing with clients at So Others Might Eat in DC and at Shepherd’s Table in Silver Spring, as well as caroling for assisted-living residents at Springvale Terrace in Silver Spring.
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, “Day of Service” has shifted into an ongoing project as the Washington Revels and Carpe Diem Arts communities collaborate to make “Thank You” cards for healthcare workers. The first recipient hospital will be Howard University Hospital, where at least one healthcare worker has died from the virus, and numerous others are working in difficult. The project goal is to deliver 1,500+ cards, and participants have until May 21 to send in their contributions.
- Click here for full event details.
Ongoing – Washington Revels & Carpe Diem Arts Daily Antidotes of Song
- Each day at noon, a guest song leader from our roster of local, national and international artists offers a song to lift the spirits of participants as they sing along at home. The event is free, and donation to the “Antidote Fund” support guest artists during this difficult time for performers everywhere.
- Click here for full event details.
- May 1-3- Virtual “May Day Weekend” (recent special event): Even though Washington Revels’ annual May Revels performances on May 2nd (Washington National Cathedral) and May 3rd (BlackRock Center for the Arts) were canceled, we marked May Day all weekend long with special guest artists, May Revels songs, and more May traditions during the Daily Antidotes of Song, Friday-Sunday, May 1-3.
- Click here to see all “May Weekend” activities.
Washington Revels Teaching Artist Christine Alexander portrays Poseidon as the Little Dragons after-school workshop (grades PreK-1) shares a Greek myth during the final in-person meeting of the spring.
In spite of event cancellations, members of Washington Revels’ 2020 May Revels chorus gather online to share songs and check in as a community of performers. In this screenshot, the chorus is captured mid-“Hurrah,” as they sing the refrain to the traditional summer song, “Country Life.”
Washington Revels Community Engagement Director Jo Rasi (upper left) hosts the April 19th “Daily Antidote of Song” featuring local singer-songwriter LEA (top row, center right).
Young Revelers Kieran (age 8, left) and Eliza Lewis (age 5, right) help make “Thank You” cards for local healthcare workers during the Revels Month of Service project.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Washington Revels
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