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COCA Helping Area Artists Go Virtual


Where do artists show their work when the galleries are closed? And how do performers connect with their audience when the stages vanish? Tom Flanigan reports COCA - the Council of Culture and the Arts - is helping Leon County's creative people to keep connecting with the community.

No sooner did COCA get a new 5year lease on life from Leon County government than a whole new challenge reared its head. Bars closed, concerts were cancelled, art galleries shut their doors. But COCA's Erica Thaler insisted her organization was ready to significantly shift its operation.

"We also can spring into action to connect our community with resources, both individual, our grantees and arts businesses, we're working really hard to be nimble and help people as they need it."

A big part of that, explained Thaler, was engaging the help of Artsopolis, the firm that created COCA's events calendar. It expanded the Tallahasseearts.org site to accomodate much more and varied content.

"In the last couple of days we've received calendar entries from people who are doing virtual gallery tours, who are streaming concerts from their living room, who are giving arts and dance, watercolor and crafting workshops. The more we can get people to engage with that platform, the more we can get their information out to the community," she remarked.

At the same time, Thaler was seeing lots of local artists who are eager to give back to the place they call home.

"We are seeing a great spirit in that respect. I've been having conversations with people who are doing workshops and planning fundraisers - music fundraisers - so I think I'd encourage anyone if they want to brainstorm, we can be as creative as we want. Anyone is welcome to email us at: info@tallahasseearts.org."

And as the viral crisis goes on, Thaler remained convinced that the unique qualities that support their creative drive will make the area's visual and performing artists a critical component of recovery.

"Our artists are resourceful. And they are business people. And they're some of the most creative people I've had the pleasure to work with and I'm confident that, given the right resources, our artists are going to help make this community even more special when we get through this."

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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