This is our third issue produced remotely, and it has not been easy. In commiserating with local business leaders and other publishers, I know we are not alone. But in another sense, we are in fact quite alone. The hardest part of sheltering in place is the isolation. I always considered myself an introvert, but I now realize how social I really am. The other day I put on my “work uniform” (a dress and high heels) to come to the office—I was tired of jeans and a t-shirt.
Last fall as we were planning our focus topics for 2020, arts and entertainment seemed like a very good idea. After all, Greater Peoria is blessed with talented entertainers and a rich arts community. The pandemic, however, upset some of our editorial plans.
The arts and entertainment haven’t gone away, of course. If anything, they’ve become more important as we’re all stuck at home. If the traditional film, TV and music industries have ground to a halt, artists and entertainers are working to build new spaces online.
Our own arts groups are doing a commendable job making this pivot. The Peoria Riverfront Museum and Peoria Symphony Orchestra, for example, have been leaders in the virtual space, while WTVP has forged new partnerships and boosted its local programming. In this issue, we talk to one Peoria band that has quietly developed a worldwide fanbase on Twitch, while local arts leaders Doug and Eileen Leunig offer their post-pandemic vision to brand Peoria as a center of arts, innovation and healing.
Meanwhile, we are anxious to return to some sort of normalcy—to see our co-workers in real life, to pick up our drive-thru coffee, to meet a colleague for lunch or happy hour. We want to dine in (or outside of) restaurants again! We are adapting with virtual events and socially distant get-togethers, but our daily routines cannot be limited to that. As we navigate our new reality, we need to create vibrancy and resilience in our community through a positive, can-do attitude and a willingness to try new ways of doing things.
As a midsized community and region, we may hold an advantage. Migration to larger cities has been the trend, but perhaps that will shift as the benefits of a more relaxed atmosphere start calling people back. We are creative because we have to be. We are innovative because we have always been. We are optimistic and positive on Peoria. And we will get through this! PM