By: Maryann Loya
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused a change in everyday life from teleworking to home schooling to getting food to go instead of eating at a restaurant are all examples of what has become our new normal. Additionally, events that include large amounts of people, including concerts and festivals, have all been cancelled.
As the city navigates through this difficult time, it continues to deliver quality services and look at creative ways to stay connected with residents. One of the ways the city is working to adapt to these changes is by taking its Second Saturdays event and making it virtual so residents can attend from the comfort of their living rooms. We interviewed Peoria’s Arts and Events Manager Marylou Stephens to give you a sneak peak of the Virtual Second Saturdays this weekend.
What gave you the idea to do Virtual Second Saturdays?
In working with the city’s Small Business Task Force, in collaboration with ASU Peoria Forward, and the Peoria Chamber of Commerce, we recognized that during the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses needed options for how they could pivot their business model and get the word out to the community. Many small businesses do not have the time or money to devote to advertising and marketing, and the Small Business Task Force is working to help “fill the gaps” for these businesses by offering this platform along with curated musical acts and food demos, to let our community know that buying local is more important than ever. In this case, arts is the economic driver to get the spotlight on these businesses.
What kinds of artists will be featured?
Here is the musical talent lined up for the live event at Axiom starting at 6 p.m. Prior to that we will be featuring local restaurants, chefs, makers, artists, of all kinds. It is free to participate, so we hope to have a diverse group to showcase this Saturday.
Where can we watch the event?
We wanted it to be accessible to as many people as possible and appeal to the following we already have so we decided to host it on Facebook. Viewers can tune on the Peoria Second Saturdays Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Peorias2ndSaturdays. Be sure to share it on your pages with your friends, families and neighbors. It is a great way to spread the love!
How long does the city plan to host the virtual events?
This is our second virtual Second Saturdays event because the first one was so well received. Depending on the interest level, we would love to keep the event going whether in person or virtual.
What do you think a virtual event needs to be successful?
For Peoria, we are looking for our residents to be entertained and engaged. Our goal is to strength our reach to include a wide variety of local and “beyond local” constituents to get Peoria noticed for the incredible city that it is and to improve the support of arts and culture. We hope each view has a uniquely, local Peoria experience. Getting engagement and feedback on this virtual event will help us to continue to curate and create arts, events and experiences in the future that are live, virtual, and/or a hybrid of both. The feedback is key to giving the people what they want!
When is the next event and what can we expect?
On Saturday, May 9, 2020, viewers can tune in online from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Viewers can watch a variety local talent and businesses showcasing all that makes Peoria unique. There will be live musical performances, cooking demonstrations and crafting.
How does the city plan to support local artists and business owners through the virtual events?
Free advertising and promotion with vendor and artist supplied video content is just the first step in getting businesses involved and highlighted. We want to hear from you! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what would be the best way to support your business and we will get creative! ASU Peoria Forward also came up with this fun promotion to get people focused on supporting local businesses starting at Virtual Second Saturdays.