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Coronavirus: Cathedral Village Arts Festival offers virtual market, livestreamed performances

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WATCH: Forced to change course due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Cathedral Village Arts Festival is moving its 29th annual event online. – May 2, 2020

From a neighbourhood parade to live performances and a street fair, the Cathedral Village Arts Festival (CVAF) offers the best of everything that is currently restricted due to the novel coronavirus.

Back in March, the festival’s planning committee announced the week-long event, running May 18-23, would transform for 2020.

“Not only did we have to come to the decision that we were going to maintain it online, but we also had to rally the troops and the get the support,” said festival director Jefferson Wourms, who came into the volunteer position this year.

In just over a month, the committee has moved everything online — the CVAF 50/50 raffle, merchandise sales, along with music and theatre performances, which will be streamed online during the event week.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan fundraisers go virtual amid COVID-19 restrictions

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“We do have some livestreaming, some pre-recorded performances. We are maintaining all social distancing, so there will be no crowds, but hopefully a digital crowd,” he said.

The popular Victoria Day parade, which typically kicks off the event, will instead march on as a video compilation of local submissions.

“We’ve asked everyone to put together a video, or some kind of imagery of what (our theme) kaleidoscope means to them,” Wourms said.

“We’re really looking for involvement from the youth and the kids who would usually be involved. Give them a project to do at home.”

The 2020 Cathedral Village Arts Festival had 275 original vendors slated for its street fair. Cathedral Village Arts Festival / Facebook

One of the biggest components for the festival, its popular street fair, also has a digital offering.

“We have completely redeveloped our website, which includes the functionality to showcase a product or two from everyone who was originally involved, at the time around 275 vendors,” Wourms said.

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Wourms added the festival does not take any funds for order fulfillment or payment processing, as all money goes to the vendor.

“It’s a good feeling to have that community support to bring this online and to hopefully give everybody something to look forward to.”

Regina wood-burning artist Julie Dima said the initial news of the street fair closure was “economically and emotionally devastating.”

“These are my people,” she said, referring to the community of local artists that converge at CVAF.

“As a handmade artist in Regina, the Cathedral Village Arts Festival is easily my biggest event of the year. I look forward to it all year, I plan for it, create artwork to sell there.”

The Folk and Fan owner said the addition of an online showcase was “inspiring and encouraging,” given that organizers could have simply cancelled the event completely.

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“For the committee to completely do a 180 and think about how they can continue to support artists, it’s pretty spectacular,” Dima said.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan RCMP lay 2 social distancing charges for gatherings

Artist Jana Klein agreed, adding she did not expect anything after the street fair was called off.

“It’s nice, especially without the market and not getting to have that face-to-face interaction. It’s nice to know that we still have the ability to do it electronically,” Klein said.

Klein, who is primarily an alcohol-ink artist, said this year would have marked her first time bringing work to the festival.

“It was my big goal for 2020 was to be in this market, because it’s my favourite festival of the entire year,” said Klein, adding she only misses the event if she’s out of town for work.

CVAF director Wourms, a life-long Regina resident, is also a longtime festivalgoer.

He said one of the reasons the planning committee forged ahead — volunteering countless hours — was to maintain the tradition.

It also ensured that plans for the festival’s 30th Anniversary in 2021 could remain intact.

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“It’s a good feeling to have that community support to bring this online and to hopefully give everybody something to look forward to,” he said.

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