The 18th Street Arts Center (File photo)

COVID-19 has forced the postponement of celebrations across the county but local artists said they won’t let the pandemic keep them from reveling in the fun during the 18th Street Arts Center’s upcoming gala.

In normal circumstances, the annual benefit event provides local residents and art connoisseurs across the county an opportunity to enjoy film screenings and more all while raising funds that will be used to continue the center’s community partnerships and arts education programs, which have remained in operation throughout the pandemic.

And while this year’s event will be slightly different from last year’s gala hosted at the French Consulate in Los Angles, “we still really wanted to make it a compelling evening of performances that you could watch from home,” said Sue Bell Yank, the center’s Deputy Director who recently discussed the evening’s virtual performances and experimental film screening that are set to begin at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3.

“I think what’s really great about this year is we have a super strong group of artists, and great curator that have put together this really beautiful film program that I think speaks to our current times and to the issues of racial injustice and all of the other things that we’re struggling with. I think it’ll be really, really great for people to see that,” Yank said.

The program will kick off with an interactive performance, which was created by Ulysses S. Jenkins specifically for the event, and will end with a live Zoom Q&A featuring curator Jheanelle Brown and several of the filmmakers who are participating in the screening.

“Jheanelle Brown is a really amazing film programmer here in L.A. and she’s selected six artists from all over the world who can speak to Black consciousness in some way,” Yank said, describing how each individual possesses a different vision of a Black future. “So they have experimental films and videos that we’ll be showing during the 45-minute program, then we’ll follow up with a Q&A with the curator and some of the artists.”

The $100 ticket is pretty cheap for gala standards, Yank said as she detailed the different packages that are available for purchase online at “Everything is going to be used to benefit the arts education programs that we’ve been keeping up during the pandemic,” as well as the various community-engagement projects with local artists.

“They’re both great causes (because) I think artists are really important these days since the bonds that we can create through art-making and through expression are probably more important now than ever before,” Yank said. “So, I think it’s really important to support artists and arts organizations right now so they’ll be here in the future to help us through times like these. I think it’s really going to be a very hopeful and inspiring program of artists,” and it’s a great thing to do with your Saturday night.