Blackbird Pottery owner April Gates said the pandemic has been a difficult time to be an artist.

“It’s been a huge challenge,” Gates said. “I’ve lost about 90 per cent of the work I had planned for myself … It has had quite a devastating impact. For me, it’s making me think about other ways of continuing to do business.”

That has prompted her to host a pop-up art market called Schoolhouse 5 on July 31 and Aug. 1, featuring a small number of fellow artisans from the area coming to exhibit work. She said it is an effort to help the hard-hit arts community.

“Create an opportunity for ourselves to let people know we’re still here, we’re still making artwork,” Gates said.

Many summer arts markets decided to shut down in the spring without surety about COVID-19. But Gates said with the province pushing for more businesses reopening, she feels it is safe to proceed with an event such as this. She said it will mimic the likes of the Haliburton County Farmers Market, with spaced apart booths.

“The risk is very low,” Gates said. “We’re going to be outdoors and because we’re going to follow those safety precautions… There’s going to be maybe up to six or seven exhibitors. We have ample room to space ourselves apart.”

Gates said although the closing of art markets was frustrating, she understands the reasons and appreciated the advanced warning given, noting there are overhead costs to prepare for a market.

“While it’s heartbreaking, I understand it,” Gates said. “We’re testing out here with this tiny pop-up market idea … We’re going to fly the flag and see how people respond.”

Other artists involved include Lisa Barry and Matt Mhilik of Homestead Pottery, painter Rod Prouse, Leslie Howchin of Moth Jewelry and wood artist Samantha Vanderwys.

Gates said she knows people around the community are looking for things to do and there is still interest in handcrafted work. She said it is worthwhile to come to support local artists.

“Come and see the new work that people are developing,” Gates said. “Even just coming out or sending words of encouragement goes a long way right now.”

Blackbird Pottery is hosting the market at its location on 5843 Gelert Rd., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.

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