Local artists, educators and entertainers adapt to serve the home-bound multitudes
As of 8am Monday March 23, it’s “Shelter In Place” for East Falls, Germantown and indeed the whole City of Philadelphia until further notice. All public & private gatherings are banned. We’re not even allowed to walk up to a restaurant and order takeout – phone or online orders for pickup only. And delivery, of course (probably the safest option but still a potential virus threat).
Overkill? I dunno… We just don’t know much about this disease, except that it’s a brand new strain to which humans have no natural immunity. And that it’s 10x more fatal than “regular” flu. And the first-hand accounts from doctors treating US cases are, frankly, quite terrifying.
Granted, these are worst-case scenarios but, still. The flu of 1918 wasn’t so bad that spring but the strain mutated over the summer into a disease that could take down a healthy adult within 24 hours of the first symptom. Not to freak y’all out but let’s do our best to play it safe these days. Let’s see Northwest Philly neighborhoods rising to the challenge and even finding new opportunities. Let’s make some lemonade, people!
Big thanks to the local businesses who’ve been reaching out to us, sharing their experiences and finding innovative ways to continue serving their clients and customers. We’re delighted to share your stories here, to document this unprecedented moment and also to create a free and public directory of local businesses in our area.
Shannon Sims is a Germantown photographer who once worked at the short-lived Pour House in East Falls. She recently told us how COVID-19 has been impacting her income so far:
I’m glad you are talking to artists about how they are being affected by the virus and panic around it. I think it’s a great idea to get another perspective on the subject.
As a freelance photographer, most of my income is from assisting and second shooting other photographers/studios as well as portrait sessions of my own. I am nervous about how hard it might be for freelance artists to be financially stable in the next few months.
It’s starting to hit us all. In the time it took me to write this email, I actually got a call from a photographer I work with telling me the mitzvah I was assisting her with is now rescheduling to November. So far I’ve lost about five photo gigs due to cancellations. One of the studios I photograph for, Bad Kitty Photography, has been getting cancellations for their locations all over the country, from California to Philadelphia. I know of a few photographers that have had weddings they booked straight up cancel or ask them to refund their deposit.
The Coronavirus is definitely real and not something to take lightly! I am grateful for my good health and that I’m not as likely to get the virus as others are. But am I worried about how this pandemic will affect my ability to support myself? Absolutely.
Cancelled events are only part of my loss. I’m also a server in a Philly restaurant once a week, but now that income stream is pretty dead. Same deal for modeling work I sometimes pick up for figure drawing classes that are all cancelled or online now. Bills still need to get paid – fortunately, I’ve been an artist all my life and have a variety of cool pieces from prints to household décor available for sale through my social media and redbubble.com.
Priced to go! It’s a pandemic, after all. I’m not a profiteer, I’m just trying to feed the cat. I’m also hoping to offer some photo specials via Facebook and Instagram to get people out and in front of my camera still – possibly some cool “quarantine portraits” taken outdoors with a zoom lens…? I’m kicking some ideas around now, please follow me on my website or social media for the latest specials and discounts. Love&light,
Shannon is networking with other artists and vendors on future pop-up locations as soon as the quarantine rules are lifted. Similarly, the East Falls Farmers Market is working on an online system where customers can browse each week’s items before ordering for pickup under the Twin Bridges or at NouVaux Market.
Also in the Falls: at least two business owners are using video to reach – and even build – their audiences.
Improv comic and Quizzo host Sean P. Maguire has lined up a whole calendar of Virtual Quizzo contests, where participants compete for cash and gift cards. Anyone can watch or play live on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. These are uncharted waters for Sean! He’s still playing with the formula but the good news is, people still seem to enjoy heckling him remotely. More than 75 trivia fans jumped in the very first night! Come pit your brain against the smartest cats in town, welcome the neighborhood’s funniest emcee digitally into your living space.
Yoga Brain yoga studio on Conrad Street was one of the first local enterprises to voluntarily cease operations due to COVID-19. Owner Justine Bacon encouraged followers to view travel & social bans as an act of “mass cooperation” and promised to find a way to support the community. Two days later, Yoga Brain Online introduced a schedule of classes that anyone can enjoy safely from home via Zoom. Just $5 per class (or free with a Yoga Brain membership).
We’ll be speaking more with Sean and Justine as their exciting new business models develop. GET PROFILED! Business Owners: we want to hear how you’re coping in quarantine. Tell us what (if anything) you’re doing to adapt, and how readers can help support you. Comment below or email [email protected].