Of all the sectors of society which the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted, the performing arts are one of the most hard hit. In these difficult times, when gatherings are dangerous and live in-person performances can’t be conducted, new ways must be found to ensure the livelihoods of musicians. The Al Khayal Music Society has been dealing with the challenges of the pandemic and finding innovative solutions to continue to support the community and promote classical music.
The Al Khayal Music Society has been conducting online performances since even before the pandemic, and a strong audience base had been formed on sites like Facebook and Youtube. When the pandemic hit, Al Khayal’s switch over to a wholly online performance platform was helped by this earlier experience and foundation. As the organizers of Al Khayal are themselves musicians, they knew very well how much the community had been impacted. Aware of the importance of keeping up their sessions, not only to retain their audience but also to ensure that musicians were kept in work, Al Khayal decided to temporarily shutter their in-person events and focus completely on online performances. In addition, they increased the frequency of the sessions from once a month to once a week. Increased sessions also means more frequent pay for the performers, which was sorely needed as the community has taken a great hit from the closure of other venues and lack of events.
Throughout this pandemic, musicians and other performers have had to find other ways to engage audiences in their art. But these challenges can also bear unexpected fruit: no longer limited by geography, artists can find appreciative listeners from far away who otherwise wouldn’t have access. This pandemic, far from destroying Al-Khayal’s network, has rather led to a re-investing in the community and strong establishment of an online presence for classical music, creating pathways that will remain open long after the pandemic is over.
Al Khayal’s online activities can be found on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdwvTT4jEwVbDk4ZRGGSuUQ/featured) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AlKhayalMusicSocety/).