- Brad Parkin
Hogle Zoo Facebook Field Trips
Typically, spring would mark the beginning of a busy season for Utah's Hogle Zoo, with warm weather bringing in crowds. But very little is "typical" right now, forcing the zoo to think differently about how to serve the public.
"Normally, we welcome thousands of kids to the zoo free of charge for field trips," says Hogle Zoo's community relations manager Erica Hansen (pictured). "We're in a situation now where kids are stuck at home, and parents not traditionally used to teaching are filling that role, so what an opportunity to serve different parts of the community."
That opportunity comes in the form of Facebook Field Trips, a daily livestream at 11:30 a.m. (facebook.com/hoglezoo) in which zookeepers provide up-close virtual experiences and educational information. One episode might involve showing how you clip an elephant's toenails; another might feature how grizzly bears get enrichment from keepers drawing on their enclosure windows with honey. For those unable to watch the livestreams, episodes are archived at the zoo's Facebook page and YouTube channel. Supplementary materials, including worksheets, are also offered at hoglezoo.com (where you can also donate or become a member to support zoo operations), and the program for each day's field trip is announced the day prior.
Since launching on March 17, the virtual field trips have grown in popularity, drawing views from all over the country, and keeping young viewers engaged as they interact with the video through their comments. "We're getting great engagement and getting great questions," Hansen says. "I think in times of stress like this, people do turn to nature." (Scott Renshaw)
- Justice Morath
S.T.E.A.M.Punk Academy Drunk Science Virtual Happy Hours
In a sense, an organization that describes itself as dedicated to "science, technology, engineering the arts and math, with a punk ethos" should be ideally positioned to respond to a moment when people are needing a D.I.Y. approach to connecting people through technology. And that's exactly what S.T.E.A.M.Punk Academy's weekly Drunk Science Virtual Happy Hours are all about.
Every Tuesday at 7 p.m. MDT, on Facebook (facebook.com/steampunkacademyslc/) and YouTube, S.T.E.A.M.Punk Academy hosts a scientist for an informal conversation that allows participants on the livestream to ask questions. Previous guests have included seismologist Dr. Amir Allam (pictured); University of Utah communications professor Dr. Sara Yeo, discussing how emotion affects the conveying of scientific information; and Montana State University microbiologist Dr. Eric Boyd discussing how microbes behave in extreme environments. Guests for subsequent weeks are announced about a week out via social media channels.
"What we've done is a casual interview with a scientist, pretty open-ended," S.T.E.A.M.Punk Academy executive director Justice Morath says. "Like if we were sitting around at a bar, what would we ask them about their expertise, and what would they tell us."
The weekly events—a collaboration with Utah Arts Alliance, sponsored by Ogden's Own Distillery—have been successful enough that Morath hopes to continue this kind of event live and in person once bars open up again. In the meantime, people stuck at home are invited to rustle up their personal beverage of choice, tune in live (or watch the recorded version) and get a dose of fun but fascinating information. (SR)
- Eric Christensen
Odyssey Dance:A Midsummer Night's Dream in Vegas
Just days before the world changed for live arts performances, Derryl Yeager and the performers of Odyssey Dance Theatre were preparing to leave for Europe for a tour with their new show, Chicago Nights. "As things got sketchier ... I sent a note to the dancers: Maybe you should see what refund possibilities are of anything you planned after the tour," Yeager recalls. "I thank my lucky stars that we weren't actually over there. One of my dancers has friends stuck in Italy, and they can't even get home."
While it would be easy to focus on the performances that never came to be, Yeager turned his attention to performances only recently completed: a run of A Midsummer Night's Dream in Vegas in February at Kingsbury Hall. A lighthearted spin on Shakespeare's play set in modern-day Las Vegas, it focuses on two couples, bickering magicians, showgirls and more. Yeager had videotaped the show, and edited together a professional version employing multiple camera angles.
Now, Yeager and Odyssey Dance are making that recorded version of A Midsummer Night's Dream in Vegas available for free on YouTube (Act 1: youtu.be/LtxSAvofOfE; Act 2: youtu.be/V3i7a_xrI6I). While he understands that many arts organizations are struggling financially as a result of cancelled performances, Yeager notes that ODT is in a solid position, and doesn't need to request contributions in exchange for watching the show online. "There are people tired of watching Contagion on Netflix," he says. "This is a thank you for all the patrons have come to see us over the years, give them something new and different to watch." (SR)
- Chris Bodily
Gallery-Sponsored Art Classes
There's no "right" way to spend a time as unprecedented as this one. Some folks are juggling their attempts to work from home with managing their children's schooling; others are stranded with too little to do and too much time on their hands. For those who find themselves in the latter category, it's okay to take a moment to breathe and figure out what comes next. And it's also okay to use this time to learn and create.
Some local galleries have a way to help you with such goals, even as they're helping themselves try to stay afloat in the middle of economic upheaval. Bountiful-Davis Art Center is one of the places providing remote opportunities to learn artistic principles, with classes for a range of abilities and age groups. Offerings have ranged from a $10 single-session for grade-school age kids, to a six-week illustration course taught by veteran local artist Chris Bodily (whose work is pictured). New classes are added regularly, so visit bdac.org for details.
Meanwhile, at Park City's Kimball Art Center, they're offering paid classes in addition to the "Creatively Quarantine" free lesson plans available to parents and others instructing kids at home. Upcoming offerings include single-day workshops on painting "positive vibes" (April 18), digital photography and photo editing (April 20) and pet portraits (April 23), plus multi-session classes on topics like bookbinding for those journaling their way through this time. Visit kimballartcenter.org for pricing and registration, as well as new classes as they are added, and consider all the ways you can bring beauty and creativity into challenging days. (SR)