By Nina Mendes
The recommendation to self-quarantine has left many Southwest Florida residents unemployed and stuck at home.
What originally started as a two-week hiatus from society, has evolved into an isolation period that has no official end-date.
Restaurants now only offer take-out services to reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus. Other businesses across SWFL, like music venues and bars, have closed their doors to the public entirely.
This is a time of economic struggle for a lot of people. It’s particularly hard on musicians, who rely on gigs to earn money.
Ollie’s Pub in Cape Coral and multimedia promoting platform, Set Life Pro, have teamed up by hosting a Facebook live stream to support local artists.
“Artists rely on music as an income, so hopefully it helped to ease that burden,” said the owner of Ollie’s Pub, Sean Dunnigan. “[Fort Myers] is a community very much used to being connected through performance. I know many are itching to get out and play.”
Dunnigan also said maintaining the feeling of normalcy will help us all stay sane within the upcoming weeks, or even months, in quarantine.
The live stream was on March 25 and featured four artists with over three hours of music. The artists played live in the pub (standing six feet apart from one another, of course) while viewers tuned into Set Life Pro’s Facebook page to watch the performances.
Deciymber Goss manages Set Life Pro and reached out to various SWFL musicians to organize the event.
“Our team is actively finding ways to assist musicians and artists from local coverage on our blog to live streams,” Goss said. “Isolating yourself from the general population can take a toll on someone’s mental health. I believe music, art and communication are medicine for the soul.”
Cody Smith, who fronts the Fort Myers solo act Cody & Co, coordinated a lot of the behind-the-scenes work for the live stream and performed, as well.
“The crippling fear of not having money because I decided to do work that makes me happy is a real low blow,” Smith said. “I had my first panic attack because of the financial and emotional strain caused by losing my job, which is what music is for me. Just be there for your friends and neighbors, so everything doesn’t get worse for everyone.”
KC West was another live stream performer. He is using his time at home to work on new material and record music.
“The live stream was a very interesting, fun and intimate outlet as a performer,” West said. “There has been more downtime to work on new ideas. As a live performer, though, it has come to a standstill. It’s going to take a while for everyone to rebound and feel safe enough to go out to places.”
Charles Runnells is a Fort Myers News-Press reporter. He recently wrote a story about art and theater groups that are hurting as a result of the coronavirus.
“[The arts] help take our minds off our troubles and make us feel something besides fear and anxiety,” Runnells said. “I’ve been writing about some of these groups for more than two decades, and it breaks my heart that some of them might lose everything they’ve worked so hard to build. SWFL will be a poorer place to live without them.”
Runnells said the arts are a huge economic driver within our community.
Standing by local artists today will support them when they need it most while providing you some quality quarantine entertainment.
Set Life Pro is working on additional events they plan on hosting soon. An online open mic took place on Apr. 1 via Facebook live stream, as well.
“Some of us are lucky and have family or great roommates to be quarantined with, but others are completely alone right now,” Goss said. “By finding little ways to connect, it creates a sense of community even if it’s just you in your living room.”