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The Stockley Gardens Arts festival is going virtual this fall

Some artists struggling during the pandemic say they need the help now more than ever.

NORFOLK, Va. — It’s an October community gathering in Norfolk that people look forward to when the seasons change.

Some call it a jewel in Norfolk.

This fall, the coronavirus has forced the Stockley Gardens Fall Arts Festival to go fully virtual.

Elena Montello, the director of the festival and director of the Hope House Foundation said the decision to go virtual wasn’t an easy one to make.

“The only word I could say as the director of the show is depressed,” said Montello. “Because we aren’t going to have the camaraderie, that community.”

Rather than browse art galleries in person, people from around the country will be able to check out the festival online and support artists through the Stockley Gardens Art Festival’s Facebook page.

Montello said they’re going to make sure the virtual event goes off without a hitch.

“We feel confident, we have some time. The musicians are pre-recording their videos, some artists are doing live videos for us to post,” said Montello.

The switch to a virtual festival comes during a time when many artists are struggling financially.

Tom Barnes is one of them. He features his artwork during the festival every year.

With the event going virtual this year, he’s worried not as many people will participate and it’ll hurt his bottom line.

“This is our revenue stream. This is the way we get to know new people who buy artwork, and this is the way we get to see people who are collectives,” said Barnes.

“There’s something about standing in front of a painting. Virtually, you don’t get that opportunity.”

That’s why Montello is encouraging people to support artists in any way that they can this fall, even though the event will happen in a virtual space.

All of the money raised during the event goes to the Hope House Foundation, which supports adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The virtual festival will take place on Oct. 17th and 18.