I’ve lived in Lincoln for 12 weeks now and I feel like I’m no closer to being a part of the arts scene than I was in week one.
Back in Omaha, I was fully in the music, art and theater scene. I always knew who was playing at the Slowdown and when the next Kent Bellows Studio gallery was opening. I wrote reviews for indie movies at Film Streams and saw plays once a month at the Orpheum Theater. None of that is happening in Lincoln.
I just can't seem to break into the arts scene here. I don’t know any music venues or indie theaters or art galleries. I didn’t go to high school with the hottest local punk bands or guitar players. I know there’s talent and amazing artists to see here. It just feels like they’re hiding underground.
With my job writing about local music for The Daily Nebraskan, this has become an issue. I’ve had to get help finding a lot of the subjects for my articles. For every artist I interview, I follow three more on social media, but it never seems to make a difference. No one’s doing anything. I get alerts when The Bay posts an event on Facebook — yes, I’ve even gone back to Facebook to find artists — but they can’t do a lot right now.
Of course, I think the pandemic’s to blame. It’s unsafe to have live shows or for a band to get together and record, and I understand that. But to me and to a lot of others, the arts are just as important as physical safety. They’re something that can uplift, motivate and inspire. I’ve hated seeing them die out since March. In the beginning of this global health crisis, virtual concerts were in full swing. Sure, some artists are still doing them, but no local ones that I’ve seen.
Maybe I’m just not looking hard enough. Maybe there’s a whole underground art scene that I haven’t had the privilege to be initiated into yet. Maybe I just need to ask everyone I meet if they know someone in a band. Maybe I’m just making excuses for my laziness. But all I want is to go to a live show again. I want to see emerging artists display their work in galleries and see a foreign film in a tiny theater with six other people.
I think, for all my struggles, I’m on a good path. I follow about a dozen Lincoln and Omaha punk bands on Instagram, though I haven’t branched away from that genre. The Bay is a good venue to start at, especially considering I can walk there from my dorm any time I need to. One day, I’m going to know this city like the back of my hand. I’m going to find a love for Lincoln art. I’m sure it’s out there, I’m sure Lincoln has an amazing art scene. It just needs to reveal itself to me.
I guess I’m writing this whole thing to ask for your help. If you’re in a band, do solo stuff, or make art in any way, reach out to me. I want to get to learn this city and all the people and groups that make it artistic. I want to be able to spread word about what you do and enjoy your craft myself.
Emma Whaley is a freshman journalism major. She can be reached at email@example.com.