Harwich's ArtWeek Celebrates The Arts Virtually

By: Jennifer Sexton-Riley

ArtWeek as celebrated in a recent pre-pandemic year. COURTESY PHOTO

Although ArtWeek, the annual statewide creative festival produced by the Boch Center, is taking an official intermission this year due to the pandemic, the Harwich Cultural Center has decided to celebrate ArtWeek virtually this week, May 1 through 10. While the center remains closed to the public, the creative heart inside is going strong with a virtual studio tour and reading, an online video playlist from previous years' events including performances and more.

ArtWeek as a celebration of the arts began in 2013 in Boston. Over the years it has grown to embrace all of Massachusetts, partnering with such organizations as the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, Massachusetts Center for the Book, MASSCreative, MassHumanities, MassPoetry, New England Foundation for the Arts, New England Museum Association, Open Door Arts (formerly VSA Massachusetts) and Young Audiences of Massachusetts. The Harwich Cultural Center was still new and finding its identity in 2018 when it first became involved, and ArtWeek presented a goal and an opportunity to reach out to the community to share the importance of the arts and of cultural organizations.

Although the pandemic has made impossible many events that would normally bring the community together, cultural center program aide Erica Strzepek explained that a virtual ArtWeek is a great way to remind everyone how much the arts have helped us endure a difficult, isolating time. After all, what would we do in our houses for months on end without music, books to read and visual and performing arts in the form of livestreamed and filmed events?

“This year, Harwich Cultural Center Director Carolyn Carey and I decided people that really enjoy seeing the brightly colored letters spelling 'ArtWeek' on the side of our building, and although ArtWeek is canceled statewide as produced by the Boch Center, we're calling it a nod to ArtWeek, a taste of ArtWeek,” Strzepek said. “We're reminding everyone of the importance of the arts in our community and what its been like during the pandemic, how people have relied on arts in the community during this time.”

Strzepek said that the cultural center has experienced a lot of turnover in the building throughout the pandemic, but the studio spaces have quickly been filled. She has encouraged new members to become involved and on board with the virtual ArtWeek celebrations.
“Everyone has put forth a good deal of effort to show the community how we have grown in participation in ArtWeek,” Strzepek said. “Amazing things have been achieved which wouldn't have been possible otherwise. We invite everyone to follow our 
Facebook and Instagram pages for inspirations, virtual studio tours, and a look back to previous years' events. You can join the conversation using #inspiresHarwich or #ArtWeekInHarwich or send us an email culturalcenter@townofharwich.us, we’d love to hear from you.”
The community is invited to participate in ArtWeek by creating Cape Cod Rainbows for Hope throughout the week, joining a global movement to spread hope by creating and sharing a rainbow in your own unique style. Materials are available to pick up at the community center at 100 Oak St. during business hours, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Display your rainbow in your window and on social media to give neighbors, friends, family and the community a lift. Use hashtags #rainbowsforhope #capecodrainbowsforhope #inspiresharwich #artweekinharwich #artweek202.

The community center has created a display along the front walkway for ArtWeek to reflect the unique personal experiences and emotions of members of the community. Everyone is invited to stop by the front lobby to pick up a shell or a piece of driftwood to take home and decorate. Return your item to the community center to be included in the exhibit. Memorial items will be accepted throughout the month of May, but only items supplied by the community center can be hung up on the display, so be sure to stop by to pick up materials while supplies last.

View an online video playlist of previous years' ArtWeek events, including performances by the Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra and the Cape Cod Ukulele Club and a recording of the Light Up The Night event organized by Harwich resident Bob Doane. Visit the center's YouTube channel to enjoy by visiting YouTube.com and searching for Harwich Cultural Center.

On Saturday, May 8 from 1 to 2 p.m. enjoy a
Cape Cod poetry virtual studio tour and reading with John Bonanni, editor of the Cape Cod Poetry Review. Bonanni will take us on a virtual studio tour of his space at the cultural center, followed by a reading of favorite poems from past issues of the Cape's regional poetry journal. To attend this live virtual event, log onto Instagram, and follow Cape Cod Poetry Review @capecodpoetry.