“I’m the most analog guy I know,” says Timothy Nelson. “But one of the joys of the pandemic — I hate to say it that way — but one of the joys was all of us discovering the things we didn’t know about ourselves, or we didn’t know was possible.”
Among other things, the artistic director of the IN Series learned how to produce and edit video and stream content, valuable skills for the small, local, opera-focused nonprofit he leads.
Pre-pandemic, the IN Series hadn’t so much as considered expanding its online presence, let alone produce original digital content.
“Even if we had thought about it, we would have really struggled…because our audience wouldn’t have known how to work the technology,” Nelson says. “[Now] some of our oldest patrons, in their 90s, know how to use Zoom just fine. So there was a whole paradigm shift with the culture that allowed us to also go digital and retain our audience.”
The IN Series has more than retained their pre-pandemic audience, they’ve grown and expanded it. “We grew our audience from about 8,000 annual subscribers to well over 20,000,” he says, noting that new members are “local, as well as from Australia and China and all over the world…. I think people really responded that we are still out here, doing even more work than before, and also creating opportunities for our artists, both economic and creative.”
Given its expanded base of subscribers, who are both far-flung and digital-savvy, the organization plans to continue developing online-only content in the seasons ahead in addition to offering in-person live programming.
Additionally, the 2021/2022 season will be made available online. “We will create video versions of all of our productions,” Nelson says. “All of that will be available to stream for free.”
The new season of the IN Series officially kicks off next weekend with the COVID-inspired “A Festival Through Grief to Hope.” The core of the four-event, multi-venue Opening Weekend Festival is a trilogy of opera films created by the IN Series in 2020, featuring music by Gluck, Schumann, and Wagner.
The films will screen one per night before the festival culminates with a live concert on Sunday, Sept. 26. The closing event will pair sacred music by Mozart and Bernstein with short poems commissioned from nine heralded international poets reflecting on the pandemic and the future. As Nelson puts it, “we’re trying to find hope amidst all of the terrible wreckage.”
The Opening Weekend Festival runs Thursday, Sept. 23, through Sunday, Sept. 26, at various venues around town. Call 202-204-7763 or visit www.inseries.org.
All past and upcoming IN Series productions can be accessed at https://invision.inseries.org.
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