Just in time for the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, Desert X released an eight-part podcast series about its site-specific exhibition in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia, which features this work by Lita Albuquerque. Photograph courtesy Desert X/Lance Gerber


A day after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued California’s shelter-at-home order, local musicians took to the internet to perform in the CVCV Virtual Fest. Livestreaming on the Coachella Valley Weekly website and Facebook page, the three-day event featured 30 acts, including Derek Jordan Gregg, Jetta King, Michael Keeth, Elektric Lucie, Juan Espino (Razor J), E A S Munk, Sergio Villegas, Lootenant Ldoubleo, Saints & Rebels, Stevie Jane Lee, Josh Heinz, Richard Finn, Lisa Lynn Morgan, Justin Ledesma (Allies), and Ormus.

Other Coachella Valley musicians have also started livestreaming performances, The Desert Sun reports: “Collyn McCoy of the band Diesel Boots is streaming a daily performance, Alf Alpha is streaming DJ sets over Instragram, and many others are planning to start streaming soon.”

The Coachella Valley arts community is quickly adapting to platforms such as Facebook Live, Instagram, YouTube to entertain audiences hunkered down at home. Some of the savvy performers are adding a virtual tip jar to their websites, and encouraging sales of digital and physical music and merchandise, as well as low-cost subscriptions.

Local performing arts centers and community theaters are also making modest asks of their patrons. McCallum Theatre, which has cancelled performances through April 30, offers ticketholders a refund, but asks them to “consider donating your tickets back to the theatre as a tax-deductible contribution.” Meanwhile, CVRep’s website offers gift certificates for next season.

Desert X offers an eight-part podcast series taking listeners through Desert X Al Ula, a site-specific exhibition of installation art in Saudi Arabia, co-curated by Neville Wakefield, artistic director of the local Desert X exhibitions. The organization’s website also offers a podcast series following last year’s show, which sprawled across the Coachella Valley and included the Salton Sea.

Arts organizations and individuals throughout the world are adapting to a new reality. And although the situation is grim, their spirit shows in great creativity and innovation. Melbourne, Australia-based singer-songwriter Batts saw her fall dates, including a showcase at SxSW, cancelled. Now, she is taking requests by email to record cover songs. For a minimum of $20, she’ll send you a file.

Some art galleries will see clients by appointment, and others, such as Heather James Fine Art in Palm Desert, offer online shows. The Heather James exhibitions include Norman Zammitt: The Progression of Color, Abstract Expressionist Women, and Hassel Smith: The Measured Paintings.

Homebound art lovers can “visit” museums around the world. Google Arts and Culture links to virtual tours of more than 1,000 museums.

And it’s only a matter of time before we see local artists making work related to the culture of COVID-19. Forbes has reported on visual artists in Hong Kong, China and abroad speaking up about the virus, its censorship and how families are suffering.

How are you or your organization adapting to the COVID-19 crisis? Let us know what you’re offering and how you’re communicating with your audience. California Desert Arts Council is monitoring the local arts community’s response to the crisis and sharing ideas and stories that can help others trying to navigate this unprecedented time. Please tell us how you’re doing at info@cadesertarts.org.