During the initial lockdowns nearly two years ago, many performance venues were shuttered. Local and regional artists who relied on these spaces for revenue lost their income and the chance to make their art known to others. Many artists simply could not make a living during the early lockdowns and were forced to pursue other livelihoods.
The Congregational Church of Somersville (UCC) of Somers, CT provided opportunities during the initial lockdowns for musicians Lara Herscovitch, Lynn Tracey, and Bruce John to share their gifts and receive modest income by performing a digital concert at the church that was simultaneously streamed to each artist’s page as well as community groups across the region. Each concert typically drew a few hundred viewers within the first month after the stream was first posted. There was clearly a hunger for live performance even when it wasn’t safe to attend at an in-person performance venue. The Somersville Church chose to stream music performances, but other possibilities include a dance troupe, a poetry slam, a simple theatrical production… the sky is the limit!
Omicron is presently shutting down, once again, in-person worship in many parts of our SNEUCC Conference. Even if the same doesn’t happen to other artistic venues – such as coffee shops, bars, and dedicated performance spaces – many people are becoming increasingly cautious about going out to such spaces. Churches set up for digital streaming can fill the hole that is being created. Churches can open their spaces, like the Congregational Church of Somersville (UCC) did in 2020, and connect the community through the streaming of joyful, uplifting, and/or educational events.
While I am eager to help churches make their video and audio streams the best they can be, know that your church’s stream doesn’t have to be perfect for the artist to connect with old and new fans and for the church to become a digital space for people to be nourished. However, if you have a high-quality streaming system, know how to use it well, and have a good event booked, perhaps your church could charge admission for the digital stream. Alternately, your church might want to include a “donate” button. I can help with those technical questions, too.
Having been in the pandemic for a couple of years, we are better prepared than ever to seize the opportunities for expanded ministry that the pandemic offers. Blessings on your efforts!
Photo: Lara Herscovitch by Joy Bush Photography. Used with permission.
Eric Elley provides consultant services to Conference churches that need assistance defining and creating a digital presence. Eric can: Recommend hardware and software solutions for digital ministry that fit within your church's budget and technical...