"Just because we can't all meet face-to-face, doesn't mean we can't create and share art." - Joel McCarthy, festival director for the Vancouver Quarantine Performance Project.

Vancouver artists are getting creative as productions around the city, and indeed around the world, are being cancelled.

In one recent example, local filmmaker and Vancouver Film School instructor Joel McCarthy has created the Vancouver Quarantine Performance Project.

In this virtual project, British Columbia actors, writers and creators can submit an original video in the categories of monologue, short film, stand-up comedy routine and song. The videos will be judged by both a jury and audience for yet-to-be-announced prizes.

While the project is designed as an outlet for creative workers in British Columbia who find themselves without work right now due to the health crisis, McCarthy hasn’t forgotten about the audience.

Submissions received will be streamed via Youtube and Facebook on April 18 and 19. McCarthy is still working out the logistics. “I wanted to work fast because everyone’s morale is going the way of the Dow Jones,” he says. “We will have up-to-date information on the website on how to participate and where to watch.”

Coming about as a way to deal with his own despair as his latest film project was recently put on hold because of what is happening in the world, McCarthy heard similar stories from others in Vancouver’s creative community. “I wanted to make something positive where people could create no matter what the restrictions.”

"I saw the collective despair on Friday and I wanted to be part of something positive and something people could look forward to." - Joel McCarthy
“I saw the collective despair on Friday and I wanted to be part of something positive and something people could look forward to.” – Joel McCarthy

With the idea conceived just this past weekend, McCarthy says he is now going from concept to full-on execution. But it isn’t the first time he has worked under pressure, having run the Vancouver 48 Hour Film Festival for a number of years. “I’m in the process of turning my living room into a studio and trying to figure out how we can make a badass variety show without exposing people,” he says.

Submissions can be made online through the festival’s website and while there is a fee to enter, McCarthy says the funds are being used to help break even.

“This is not a money-maker,” he says. Instead, funds are being used to purchase the software necessary to stream the variety show and any leftover funds will go towards prizes. Those artists who cannot afford the submission fee can also request a fee waiver.

Saying the project came out of a dark place and uncertain future, McCarthy sees it as a way to create a community in a time where there is so much uncertainty. “I wanted to create a festival we can screen no matter what the day or current condition of the world.”