COVID-19 has brought a temporary lull of performing arts to the Lawrence community. The Lied Center of Kansas’s Facebook Live series, however, has begun to try to fill that void since venues have shut down.
It started with jazz pianist Emmet Cohen. The Lied Center live-streamed him performing in his Harlem apartment on Facebook. After Cohen’s performance, which has over 10,000 views, the Lied Center hosted two other artists: the band Mwenso and the Shakes, and children’s performer Jazzy Ash.
After campus closed, the Lied Center had to cancel all in-person events until Aug. 7, which is when it started putting on shows via Facebook Live.
“In this time of physical and social distancing, [the Lied Center] feels it’s very important to provide opportunities for social connection,” said Lied Center Executive Director Derek Kwan.
The Lied Center’s Facebook live events are free to the public, and Kwan said in the past performances, people have been connecting via live chat.
The Lied Center will host Irish singer-songwriter Ashley Davis Wednesday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m.
“[Davis] has been performing at the Lied Center for about nine consecutive years,” Kwan said. “So our community is very familiar with her and is really looking forward to [her performance].”
Davis is a Lawrence native but has band members from all around the world. COVID-19 has impacted not only her but her entire community.
“At the very last festival we did in March, there was a fortunate feeling amongst all of us that we were able to play,” Davis said. “A lot of people had already been pulled off their festivals by that point.”
Davis said once COVID-19 has run its course, she and other performers alike will appreciate being able to play live gigs.
Davis has been preparing her setlist of 10 to 12 songs for the live stream just like any other live show.
“I write most of my music about love, loss and nature,” Davis said. “So I think that all of those categories tie into what we’re dealing with at the moment.”
The troubling aspect that most performers, like Davis, have had to overcome is the loss of a live audience that’s in the moment with the artist.
“In my shows, I constantly change a setlist on stage because I feel where the mood of the crowd is,” Davis said. “That’ll be a little bit different [on Live] because it’s sort of like a blank space.”
During Davis’ performance and past Lied Center Facebook Live performances spectators can send messages, song requests and reactions to the artists via the live feed.
“I feel like when people have to lean in and read stuff kind of breaks the energy and flow of the show,” Davis said. “So, I’ve really gone back and forth on if I want to read the comments or not.”
Davis said the most different part of performing remotely will be the complete silence after she finishes a set.
“I think you just have to kind of tune without applause going,” Davis said. “You just have to continue to talk and perform without direct contact with your audience.”
Kwan said the Lied Center’s goal during this crisis is to continue its purpose and support artists as much as they can in a physically-reasonable manner.
“Our hearts go out to everyone in the community who’s been impacted by the current situation,” Kwan said. “We look forward to the day when we can welcome people back inside our building.”
Kwan said the Lied Center currently plans to announce its 2020-2021 season in late May with ticket sales starting early June.