Since 1981, the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts has hosted national touring artists in its 1,600-seat theater and been the home for locals Left Edge Theatre and Roustabout Theater. Now, the doors to the Santa Rosa art center are shut for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Yet, the LBC is more than a building, and the nonprofit organization’s staff now works to continue their various community engagement and education initiatives, shifting to an online format with three free, digital, social-media programs—Let’s Be Creative, Drop the Mic and Luther Locals.
“We knew that we wanted to produce something for the families and students at home, to keep them connected to the arts and arts education,” says Ashleigh Worley, director of education and community engagement. “The other demographic that is important to us is teachers, and what can we offer for schools and teachers that would be helpful.”
Let’s Be Creative is the LBC’s answer to the first part of that equation. The daily video series features interactive lessons in dance, musical instrument care, visual arts and more for kids of all ages. For teachers, the LBC is launching a weekly email list of local resources for teaching classes at home.
The LBC’s other digital programs hope to keep the general public connected to arts as well.
Drop the Mic is a curated content list of online clips, shows and other projects, with weekly topics centered around streaming concerts, comedy culinary arts and more. Luther Locals features a weekly remote performance from a local musician.
“Luther Locals is an idea of how we can engage more with our local artists, because there are so many talented people here,” says Anita Wiglesworth, director of programs and patron services. “The current situation had us shift focus to not only support our local artists, but provide entertainment for our community.”
Luther Locals debuted last week with a video by Sonoma County pianist and singer-songwriter (and former LBC box-office employee) Joni Davis, who performed a darkly melodic original song, “Lyell Canyon,” from her living room.
“I wrote that song a couple years ago,” Davis says. “It came out of a hard time, when I took a minute out of my life to sit and think. When Anita approached me for this idea, I thought of it, because I feel like I’m in that same reflective space with everything that’s going on.”
Luther Burbank Center for the Arts’ digital programs are on