Mann Art Gallery introduces virtual programing during COVID-19 shutdown

Photo from the Mann Art Gallery Facebook page.

With public facilities closed for the foreseeable future, Prince Albert’s Mann Art Gallery is finding new and creative ways to connect with art lovers.

Starting today, Gallery employees will host a daily virtual programming series live on YouTube and Facebook. The series will run for the next two weeks.

Mann Art Gallery acting director and curator Lana Wilson said they’ve cancelled or rescheduled a number of programs and exhibitions. She hopes these virtual programs will help fill that void.

“You can’t stop people from making art,” Wilson said during an interview on Monday. “We will always enjoy seeing the art that is out there. We can just enjoy it in a new way now.”

The virtual programs include an art appreciation discussion on Tuesday, a live art activity for children on Wednesday and a Mann Art Gallery collection discussion on Thursday. The Friday program will be a sketchbook/journal theme of the week, in which viewers are encouraged to create a piece of art based on the theme, then post it on Facebook or Instagram.

“Hopefully it’s going to engage (people) across the many different demographics and appeal to the different interests of our members, while also supporting the things that the Mann Art Gallery does best,” Wilson explained.

Staff members have been looking for ways to boost the gallery’s social media presence for a while, but the current program ideas didn’t come into place until the government-mandated COVID-19 shutdown. They were pleasantly surprised at how well-received Friday’s Facebook live announcement of the Winter Festival Art Show and Sale winner, which inspired them to look at new ways to connect with their audience.

Wilson said artists and art lovers value face-to-face interaction, something that smaller walk-in galleries like the Mann Art Gallery excel at. Moving those interactions online is going to be a challenge, but she’s confident it will prove popular.

“We’re still here, we’re still working and we can have art continue to inspire us,” she said. “There’s a way to connect with the Mann Art Gallery, with art activities, with art education opportunities, and with local artists … even when we’re closed. I think that idea of maintaining connection with our members during these difficult times is the primary goal of this current social media experiment.”

If they prove popular, gallery staff may continue the live virtual programs after the COVID-19 outbreak ends. Wilson said it likely won’t be as intensive a schedule, so art lovers can’t expect virtual programming every day, but they’re open to doing the occasional live video on YouTube or Facebook.

“Hopefully this will be really successful experiment,” she said. “Certainly, we’ll be maintaining that goal of increasing our social media presence. I can’t promise that all of these things will continue, but at the moment, I think it’s a great way for us to be spending our time.”

“This is very new,” she added. “I hope people will stick with us.”

Mann Art Gallery virtual programming schedule

Monday: Posting of art created over the weekend and upcoming program topics.

Tuesday: Art Appreciation Discussion with Acting Director/Curator Lana Wilson, live on YouTube, 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday: “Danie’s Hive of Creativity,” an Art Activity for Children with Acting Educator Danielle Castle, video tutorial with supplies lists and templates, Wednesday morning on YouTube with FB and Instagram image galleries.

Thursday: Mann Art Gallery Collections / Vault Discussion with Registrar Tia Furstenberg, video, some Q&A, on YouTube, cross posting to FB and Instagram. Thursday afternoon, 3:00 p.m.

Friday: Sketchbook / Art Journal Theme of the Week announced by rotating staff. We will give you (and each other) an art theme to make art or journal about, and then share the results on Monday’s and throughout the week. At least 1 staff member will make art about the theme and post it on Monday on FB and Instagram. We want to see what you make, too! For children, teens and adults. Theme announced at 10:00 a.m.