Arts DEVO: Let’s all spring forward, please!

Photo by Sarah Campbell
Jason Cassidy

I am hopeful that the News & Review will find a wayArts DEVO, March 19, 2020

It has been one year since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic (March 11, 2020), and it’s felt like a lifetime’s worth of turmoil and trauma has passed through us since then. Worst of all, of course, are the millions of tragedies associated with 525,000 Americans (plus another 2 million worldwide) dying from the virus. In the last 12 months, nearly 550,000 more people have died in this country than would have in a normal year.

Next week also marks one year since the Chico News & Review—along with its sister papers, the Sacramento News & Review and the Reno News & Review—shut down due to a dramatic drop in advertising. At the time, it was hard to see a path back unless there was an overall return to “life as normal,” and, much as for every other business in Butte County, forecasting that would become a frustrating exercise in near-futility.

Thankfully, in Chico, there have been enough loyal advertisers, generous contributions from readers, and COVID-relief loans/grants to bring back a skeleton crew to put out stories on the CN&R site and, starting last July, publish a print edition once a month. That’s still where we are—printing monthly and not knowing exactly what the future holds. We do know that the CN&R building is for sale and whatever work we do will be remote for now, with Zoom meetings until we can safely gather again in my back yard or a coffee shop. We also know that nobody knows the extent to which the re-opening of the economy in the months ahead will translate into returning advertisers. And we know that we’ll likely need other sources of revenue—donations, sponsorships, grants, etc.—in order to return to something resembling normal.

I am really proud of the work our team has done under very trying circumstances. With few resources and limited hours, the editorial crew—Melissa Daugherty, Ashiah Scharaga, Ken Smith, Evan Tuchinsky and Trevor Whitney—and Art Director Tina Flynn have managed to tell stories about the community going through the pandemic, contentious elections and wildfires. I am forever grateful for their work and friendship this past year, and for the commitment N&R owners Jeff vonKaenel and Deborah Redmond, along with the business and tech staff in Sac, have made to Chico. I’m stoked on the behind-the-scenes work of our sales coordinator Jen Osa and the on-the-street work of our delivery crew, and I am super-stoked on everything longtime friend Jamie McCormack has done in support of the paper (I see you!).

And I am hopeful. Maybe it’s the spring weather and the fact that we turn the clocks forward this weekend to trick our brains into thinking we have more daylight. I’ll trick my brain into thinking that maybe the current American saeculum is coming to an end and that something new is being born—something better for everyone.

Hopeful visions for our future

If there is to be a new, better day, it’s up to us to put in the imagination and work to realize it. Imagine Together is an art show concept that was born in the mind of local artist Claire Fong (inspired by the work of author Adrienne Maree Brown) and organized with fellow creator (and Chico Art Center Gallery Director) Cameron Kelly. The exhibit will show virtually on the 1078 Gallery website in April, and the call for art asks questions to prompt artists to create their own sci-fi vision for an improved world:

“Now, our imaginations will shape the future. Our thoughts, dreams, goals, hopes, ideas, beliefs and feelings can shape reality. How can your imagination transform the world into a more loving and inclusive place? How can your imagination help make the future a hopeful and joyful place where there is room for everyone?”

Every medium is welcome. Visit 1078gallery.org to submit. Deadline is March 28.

Meet the new dog

With a pet in the house, every day is filled with new possibilities. Faithful readers, I introduce to you the newest family member of the DEVO Compound and future arts column obsession, Rosie.

New dog rising.

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