The Columbia Gorge Orchestra Association—shaken and then stirred to action—survived the initial blow of the pandemic last March after stay-at-home orders forced the curtain to come down on a big musical production.
Rather than surrender to the new reality, CGOA did a giant pivot, finding fresh ways to entertain audiences, educate, engage performers, and nourish communities starved for positive distraction and fun viewing.
“The Show Must Go On,” told by writer and CGOA choir singer Lori Russell, is the first installment of The Heart of Community—a yearlong series shining a light on rural arts.
The storytelling will showcase how the arts breathe life into communities and can even be an economic driver. It will also tell a comeback story as we seek to help preserve rural arts in these unprecedented times. We invite you to share potential stories to tell in the months ahead. Send ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lori made her own pivot as she learned to do virtual performances from her family room. She says the past year has been challenging for many arts organizations, and is excited to share the story of the Columbia Gorge Orchestra Association.
“I hope it inspires performers in other rural communities—and the audiences who support them—to find their own creative ways to thrive,” she says.
The Heart of Community series receives support from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust—a private nonprofit serving nonprofits across the Pacific Northwest. This is the third year the Vancouver, Washington-based trust has partnered with us to tell the important stories of the rural Northwest and West.
As we seek to offer more ways to experience our storytelling, we added a wrinkle in 2021: We will produce a Heart of Community podcast with each installment of the rural arts series. Look for the first one later this month at ruralite.com.