My colleagues and I at the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation have been for the last 10 weeks, planning the virtual festival – IF 2020 – that goes live on Aug 8, at midnight UTC. IF 2020 is a 24-hour online improvisation festival, featuring over 100 unique and original performances by over 150 international artists of all disciplines responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. This all-night celebration of the arts, featuring short performance videos by musicians, spoken word poets, dancers, theatre practitioners, and multi-disciplinary artists will be free and streaming online at www.improvfest.ca

IF 2020 poster UTC times

It’s been a wild process from conception to production with a team working remotely in Canada and Wales, that started with a grant application to the University of Guelph’s COVID-19 Research Development & Catalyst Fund back in May, that was then quickly followed by reaching out with invitations to over 100 improvising artists to participate in our (at that time yet-to-be-named) festival! Somewhere shortly afterwards we settled on IF 2020 and then suddenly we were processing artist contracts and payments (all of the artists received a fee for their contributions!), collecting files, troubleshooting audio and video submissions, branding the festival, designing and populating the website, promoting the artists on social media, determining the festival order, and getting everything to our amazing Technical Director (and my dear friend) Ed Sinclair, so that he could have it all magically ready to be both live streamed online AND ready to air with our radio partners CFRU, Radio Western and 17, Institute of Critical Studies!

I am really fortunate to have been gainfully employed during the pandemic, and I am really proud of the work my colleagues and I have been able to do to support artists internationally during these extremely difficult times. IF 2020 is only a drop in the bucket, but we’re hoping that our viewers will find some inspiration in the art we are presenting next week.

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