COVID-19 cancelled many beloved annual events, but LIVE! In Lake Country quickly adapted its plans and reformatted its popular summer lineup to comply with restrictions to keep everyone safe.
In March, British Columbia’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry put into effect a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people which consequently kiboshed all concerts and LIVE! In Lake Country’s regular summer programming.
In response, the District of Lake Country brought its LIVE! series to the people with its sidewalk series featuring artists such as Ben Klick, Poppa Dawg, Opera Kelowna, Cod Gone Wild and Sista B among others.
The last two sidewalk concerts were held Thursday night (Sept. 3).
Since the program kicked off in June, the District of Lake Country hosted 44 intimate performances in cul-de-sacs, driveways and yards for neighbours to enjoy.
Cultural Development coordinator Ryan Donn said this was the most loved project he’s worked on in a while.
“It was a huge success,” he said. “People were craving connection and culture and it came through in spades,” Donn said.
The artists, he said, we’re also very excited about the opportunity.
“For many artists, it’s the first paycheque in months,” he said, noting these performances allowed artists to connect with their audiences and try out new material in a time where performances are hard to come by.
The district began accepting request applications May 7 and Donn said it gave the people something to look forward to amid quarantine.
Donn said the hardest part was keeping the event a secret to ensure audiences didn’t exceed the 50-person limit.
“The response was phenomenal,” Donn said. “People followed the rules, no one wants to be outside the norm.”
“After being so isolated since mid-March it was such a boost to our spirits and morale to be so wonderfully entertained in our very own neighbourhood with social distancing safely practised,” a host wrote to Lake Country council following a performance in June.
“It was the best highlight we have experienced since this pandemic descended upon us.”
As an unexpected byproduct of the hyper-local shows, Donn said, was it brought neighbours together.
“It was neighbours connecting with neighbours — it’s not some random people in the park, it’s the person that lives next door or down the street,” he said.
“We’re building close community moments. There was some really good social cohesion that was being built that we didn’t expect.”
Now, Donn said he’s fielding inquiries about the future of the sidewalk series.
“Residents are asking if we can do it again next year,” he said. “But will there be a pandemic next year?”