Dad’s Garage, the scrappy nonprofit theater company best known for improv, wasn’t going to let a pandemic stop them from making Atlantans laugh. In order to do so, however, they had to pivot to digital.
“The pandemic has hit us hard and will continue to affect our organization probably for the next fiscal year, but we are responding to this in a way that I think is ultimately good for our organization,” says Matt Terrell, the communications director for Dad’s Garage. After contending with the fact that canceling all of their upcoming performances and events (including a major fundraiser, the Big Stupid Parking Lot Carnival, originally set for this month) would cause a $150-300,000 loss of revenue, they realized now would be a good time to get around to the things they’d been meaning to do—like launching a Twitch channel.
Twitch is a livestreaming platform primarily used by gamers, but on the Dad’s Garage channel you’ll find a slate of performances throughout the day. “I think that during this downtime, we’re probably all realizing how much we liked to go out and enjoy the arts, and go out in town and have dinner and a show because we now don’t have the chance to,” says Terrell.
Other performing arts organizations and even restaurants and stores are trying new ideas through digital platforms. Not only does it give them a chance to maintain visibility and potentially bring in some revenue during a difficult time, but it’s a much needed outlet for an Atlanta community that craves social interaction.
If you’re getting antsy while staying home on lockdown, we’ve rounded up some of the city’s digital offerings from theater to cocktail hours.
To get cultured from a distance
The Alliance Theatre had to cancel the rest of their season, but they were able to professionally tape a performance of the family-friendly show Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed and have made it available for streaming until March 29. It costs $5 to view and also includes an activity guide. Other virtual offerings include a recording of their toddler-focused performance In My Granny’s Garden, a baby book reading, and virtual acting coaching sessions. They’re also working on transitioning their children’s spring break camp to a digital platform.
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights will host a series called “Power to Inspire” beginning March 27. The series will consist of panels, workshops, and speakers. The first event features Terence Lester, a homeless advocate on the board of the nonprofit Love Beyond Walls. His talk will center on Love Beyond Wall’s campaign to combat COVID-19’s impact on the city’s homeless population.
On Dad’s Garage’s Twitch channel, Monday through Friday from noon to 4:00 p.m. improvisors are performing skits and children’s readings. On Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m., when they would normally host their primetime shows at the theater, they’ll rebroadcast some of their most popular scripted shows, like The Wrath of Con 1 and Wicket. They’re also accepting donations (which you can make here) that will be shared with over 50 performers.
Horizon Theatre livestreamed a sneak peek of their show The Light on Friday, March 20. It’s still available for viewing and includes behind the scenes info from people involved with the show (if you watch it, consider making a donation).
To pretend you’re out on the town
The bartenders at Ponce City Market’s Likewise are hosting a “Quaran-tini” series beginning at 5:00 p.m. each night on their Instagram account. The series goes over a variety of topics including bartending basics and how-to-make cocktail ingredients. Participants can contribute to their virtual tip jar.
It may be awhile until Atlanta Food Walks leads their tour through downtown again, but for now, people can treat themselves to a virtual tour (that involves real food!). It’s actually a food box with treats from stops on the tour, and each box includes enough food for two people. Items in the box include Panbury’s Pies, a tea blend from Just Add Honey, cornmeal from Logan Turnpike Mill, and praline from Miss D’s. The box also comes with access to 45 minutes of chef and history videos.
To get an extracurricular education
The metaphysically curious can tune into PCM’s Modern Mystic’s podcast, Sunday School. If you’re into sewing, or want to learn more about it while you’re stuck at home, sewing-enthusiast shop Topstitch has launched the Sewcial Network with online classes and a way to connect with other sewers in the Atlanta community.
For kids, the Children’s Museum of Atlanta has virtual programming just for them. They’ve recorded different activities, like bean tambourine making and instructions on planting beans.
Atlanta-based illustrator Mike Lowery has launched Sketchbook Time hosted daily on Instagram live at 1:30 p.m. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to draw a platypus or narwhal, now is your chance.
The Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) has virtual offerings for adults and kids. Adult activities include an embroidery tutorial (learn to stitch “wash your hands and don’t be a racist”) and a poster competition, but more will be added shortly.
To feel aww-inspired
When the corona panic strikes, peeping on the panda habitat at Zoo Atlanta can be a pleasant distraction. You can just take a moment to watch them eat and sleep and play. The zoo is also seeking donations to their emergency fund due to lost revenue while closed.