Artist Jeffrey Gibson premieres a new performance work, TO FEEL MYSELF BELOVED ON THE EARTH, for Palm Springs Art Museum’s Art Party 2020, scheduled for Dec. 4. Photography by Brian Barlow/courtesy of Jeffrey Gibson and Kavi Gupta, Chicago, and Palm Springs Art Museum


Greetings from the California Desert Arts Council. As you receive this month’s e-newsletter, Coachella Valley organizations and venues are in limbo once again as Riverside County has slid back into the purple tier, the most restrictive of the state’s color-coded COVID-19 framework for safe reopening. Museums, theaters, restaurants, and fitness centers were among the businesses forced to shut down indoor operations.

In this edition, we update you on the latest news from around the arts community and link to stories of interest to Coachella Valley arts and culture leaders. Here we go:

Sunnylands Center & Gardens, which began welcoming visitors inside on Oct. 14, returned to outdoor-only programming, including a five-day observation of Dia de los Muertos featuring altars created by local community groups. The public has free access to the gardens from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The café reopens Nov. 4 with outdoor seating. Three tours will be available beginning Nov. 11: a walk focusing on the exterior of the Annenbergs’ iconic house and landscape, a birdwatching tour, and a shuttle tour of the grounds.

In a letter to donors, patrons, and the community, the McCallum Theatre’s new president and CEO, Jamie Grant, confirms the venue is committed to offering programming this season, either in person, virtual, or both. “We are working on some innovative ideas and hope to announce some exciting plans in short order,” he says. “We are also looking at best practices at theaters and venues around the world and across the country for systems and protocols that will ensure the McCallum is safe and comfortable when we are allowed to raise the curtain once again.” Grant also notes the theater’s education department has expanded its programming to serve a greater number of students in the Coachella Valley and beyond.

CVRep hosts its annual benefit, “Behind the Curtain: Magic in the Making,” Nov. 12, and its silent auction is open now, with new items added every day. The event program includes a look back at the theater’s greatest moments, entertainment, and an awards program. Tickets to this virtual fundraiser are $50 each.

Palm Springs Art Museum hopes the county will return to the red tier so it can open later this month with the Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist exhibition. It’s also promoting its virtual Art Party 2020, set for Dec. 4, featuring the world-premiere presentation of a performance by artist Jeffrey Gibson, a Native American artist who participated in the inaugural Desert X. 

Modernism Week went online with its fall preview event, which included six pre-recorded programs as well as a happy hour, “Live From the Zoom Zoom Room,” that drew about 150 attendees. Tickets for Modernism Week’s main event in February go on sale Jan. 1, 2021, with programs streaming Feb. 11–28.

Desert X opens Feb. 6, 2021, with artists installing site-specific works throughout the Coachella Valley. In an article in Palm Springs Life magazine, U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz said, “Desert X could be the first and one the safest events.” In addition to the outdoor art installations, Desert X offers a variety of online programming, including discussions with participating artists. 



Palm Springs Art Museum plans to sell multiple works of art over the next two years not only to stay afloat amid pandemic-related financial difficulties but also to kickstart a long-term acquisition plan that diversifies the museum’s collection. (The Desert Sun)

What could the virtual performing arts look like if they had their own software platform, responsive to artists needs? Ron Evans, an adviser to nonprofit leaders, explores the possibilities. (The Arts Professional)

Zoom is getting into ticketed online events, announcing it has started beta testing a new service called OnZoom that allows users to host and monetize online events. (engadget)

San Francisco will give shutdown-affected artists “universal basic income.” A cohort of 100 artists will receive a $1,000 monthly stipend as part of the Basic Income Pilot for Artists. The program has a chorus of critics. (artnet)

‘The city of festivals’ goes without them for a year. Indio hosts roughly 20 major yearly events, from Coachella to the International Tamale Festival to the Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival. With COVID-related cancellations, the city government lost out on more than $3.5 million — and individual businesses that rely on festival revenue are struggling. (The Desert Sun)