Birmingham arts flourish in new programs despite the pandemic—hear how from 3 nonprofits


A year into the pandemic, and arts organizations are still struggling to provide their amazing attributes and activities to those who enjoy them. Luckily, PNC Bank supports several of our beloved arts nonprofits in Birmingham and helps them continue to thrive in new, unique ways—even when it didn’t seem possible.

From theaters to museums, Birmingham’s arts organizations transitioned to fit the barriers the pandemic put between them and their supporters. Through it all, they still supply residents with fun and creativity with help from PNC.

“Over the last year, we have seen just how creative and resilient our cultural partners have been. They have continued to create, to give comfort, and to provide us with ways to connect.”

Nick Willis, Regional President, PNC in Alabama

Take a look at a few of the projects putting a spark back into The Magic City.

McWane Science Center: Virtual Itty Bitty Science program

When the pandemic forced school closures, erased summer camps and cut down on time with friends, parents became teachers, counselors and more for their children.

McWane Science Center, a staple in Birmingham for children and adults alike, knew they needed to continue their educational and fun services to families.

The Virtual Itty Bitty Science program was one way the team found to reach children in Birmingham and beyond. The program puts excitement into kids’ lives while giving some much-needed relief to scrambling parents.

Sparking wonder and igniting imagination

itty bitty Birmingham arts flourish in new programs despite the pandemic—hear how from 3 nonprofits
Virtual Itty Bitty Science program involves several different ways for children to learn, including a vocabulary series. Photo via McWane Science Center

PNC’s contribution to the Early Childhood Education program at McWane allowed the nonprofit to implement programs like Little Labs Live!

The virtual labs introduce young learners to many different science concepts in an interactive way. Through the labs, little learners can replicate experiments at home with everyday supplies.

“Supplying these educational resources has been a great feat for not only Itty Bitty Magic City’s science programming, but also for our families. Families can engage with their children with resources and simple hands-on activities, increasing curiosity and continuing education in a relaxed environment.”

Julie Danley, Director of Early Childhood Education, McWane Science Center

Since the launch of these programs, McWane has reached busy families for quick STEAM projects that increase parents’ one-on-one time with their children. Even stuck at home, children have the opportunity to enrich their minds and explore their surroundings.

Birmingham Museum of Art: “Wall to Wall: Merritt Johnson”

The Birmingham Museum of Art (BMA) brings art to life through the museum’s largest site-specific installation it’s ever done. “Wall to Wall: Merritt Johnson” makes art accessible and immersive by giving viewers an interactive exhibit to explore for free.

The exhibition turned Alaska-based artist Merritt Johnson’s work into wallpaper that covers the entire lobby and cafe area of the BMA. You’ll spot recognizable Birmingham landscapes like Red Mountain Park and the Cahaba lilies.

“As visitors enter the Museum, the first thing they encounter are these bright, large-scale works of art. The immersive experience makes an inspiring first impression, especially since many people are coming to the Museum for respite from the many stresses brought about by the pandemic.”

Graham C. Boettcher, PH.D., The R. Hugh Daniel Director, Birmingham Museum of Art

The city couldn’t have used Wall to Wall at a better time. It was installed when the museum reopened after its seven-month closure and many of us were starved for a creative outlet.

“From the moment PNC arrived in Birmingham in 2012, they have been an eager and active partner of the Birmingham Museum of Art, helping to make our city a better place to live through art experiences.

Wall to Wall: Merritt Johnson has been no different, and PNC has been an outstanding partner from concept to installation. Little did we realize that Wall to Wall would open at such a critical time for our community, in the midst of a global pandemic.”

Graham Boettcher

Visitors agree—it’s breathtaking

Viewing the familiar local scenes at this scope and level is awe-inspiring. From visitors to the team at the Museum, the immersive exhibition supplies joy and creativity to their lives.

“I think members of our own team—myself included—find it exhilarating to see our workplace completely transformed by Wall to Wall, which has challenged us in the best possible way to reimagine the scope and scale of what the museum experience can be.”

Graham Boettcher

Boettcher says he’s enjoyed seeing visitors’ engaged reactions to “Wall to Wall.” Patrons take selfies with the colorful backdrops and some have even used photos of the exhibition for their Zoom backgrounds on conference calls!

Alabama Symphony Orchestra: #TunefulTuesday

#TunefulTuesday with the ASO! 02/02/21 from Alabama Symphony Orchestra on Vimeo.

Raise your hand if you miss live music. The ability to come together and collectively enjoy the beautiful sounds of local and national artists is one of the best parts of having the Alabama Symphony Orchestra (ASO) in Birmingham.

As theater lights went dark and curtains drew to a close, musicians and music-lovers got left behind. The good news? We can hear music from anywhere.

The ASO didn’t let COVID-19 restrictions stop them from creating exquisite music and entertaining Alabama. During #TunefulTuesday, participants can tune in via social media and e-mail each week to hear ASO musicians share their music with the world.

“With #TunefulTuesday we’re able to not only connect with our current audience but meet with some music lovers for the first time. Through this program and our partnership with PNC, we are able to bring music to not just the Birmingham area, but music lovers all over Alabama and beyond.”

Mark Patrick, Alabama Symphony Orchestra

From Bach to The Beatles

#TunefulTuesday features members of the Symphony individually collaborating to create music they would traditionally perform live for an audience.

Performances range from solos to socially distanced chamber reps, as well as special music education demonstrations. It’s also a great way to celebrate a variety of music genres.

Coming together while staying apart

Instead of turning to your seatmate to the right after a performance or discussing over a glass of wine at the concession stand, music lovers comment on and share each episode to connect with each other.

“One patron reached out to tell us how uplifting and comforting she found a particular performance. Another remarked how a video reminded her of a wonderful trip she took to Romania years ago. It’s been truly amazing to see the different ways people connect with music, and how #TunefulTuesday has brought a sense of comfort to those at home and social distancing.”

Mark Patrick, Alabama Symphony Orchestra

Mark says he’s even heard from some viewers that they gather around their devices with family and watch each episode together every week.

“While people are at home, practicing social distancing, it’s truly a great feeling to see how the ASO has become a part of people’s weekly routines.”

Mark Patrick, Alabama Symphony Orchestra

We’re happy to have so many amazing nonprofits in Birmingham promoting the city’s talent. Learn more about PNC Bank’s involvement in the arts community by visiting their website, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

© 2021 The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Sponsored by:

Irene Richardson
Irene Richardson
Articles: 385