PHOTOGRAPH BY GETTY IMAGES
The LGBTQ Center in Palm Springs will show 20 ways in which its programming reaches out beyond the brick and mortar building on Palm Canyon Drive and into your home during a two-day virtual Info-A-Go-Go., Jan. 26-27.
And 20 programs only begins to scratch the surface of what The Center offers. During the 90-minute Zoom format each day, participants will learn about programs ranging from wellness, sports, entertainment, religion, and a variety of support groups. The pandemic was not about to stop The Center from conducting what would normally draw more than 500 people.
“We decided that we wanted to keep it in our community's minds this year, whether it was smaller, or whether it worked or not, we were still going to persevere and try this new format,” says Candice Nichols, director of programs. “It's really a place where these organizations that don't get a lot of marketing, or a lot of play out there, can really showcase the opportunities they have for the community.”
Nichols chats with Palm Springs Life further about Info-a-Go-Go.
How long have your held this event, and how did it get started?
This is our fourth year, and we plan to continue with this brand because we think it's a great service to the community. Four years ago, we always had health fairs and you see the same folks at health fairs. And we really thought about all the great LGBTQ clubs, organizations, and things going on in the city, and how do we get information about them to people who live here, moving here, or who are just here for the season. So, we decided to use a welcome wagon format. Here's everything in one stop that you can showcase your organization or your club, and get people to join.
How will the event differ using Zoom rather than in person?
We have 20 organizations, clubs, or groups that are participating this year. It's a two-day event, 90 minutes each day. Each organization will give a 5-minute presentation the first hour, and the second half hour, we'll go into breakout rooms where people can ask questions to the presenters.
Doesn’t appear you’ve shied away from engaging your audience during the pandemic.
Just last week, we tried something absolutely new again. We had a comedy show. We had a program proposal from comedienne Mina Hartong and we said, "Well, we don't know if people are going to be interested in her doing stand-up, so why don't we launch it with a live comedy night performance and see how that goes?" We had 90 sign up, and over 70 watching.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY THE CENTER PALM SPRINGS
Do you have new programs for 2021?
We have actually 11 new programs. We have a new queer spirituality group, a meditation and intuition discussion group. A standup comedy workshop, which is brand new, something we've never tried before. And then we're starting to ease back into some of our health and wellness physical activity classes.
How do the programs you offer play into the role The Center has in the community?
The Center’s tagline is "We're here for you." And before our tagline was "Creating vibrant communities," and I think we did that. And during this pandemic, we want people to know that we're here for them, and we will continue to be here for people. And that's what we've done in these Zoom classes. I just got a beautiful email from someone from the community that just was congratulating us on still providing the programming that we provided before, and being there for the community. And I think that's our ultimate goal is to be that soft place for people to land when they need support or when they need to reach out. Our support groups are really important. Our mental health department is hugely needed right now. Our trans programming is needed on a continuing basis. These things don't go away because there's a pandemic.
Sounds like Zoom will be part of your post-pandemic programming.
We would have never thought to do Zoom programming along with in-person programming before, but that is our future. Once you think you've got something down to a science like, "Oh, we've got this programming down, and we have this great program application people can fill out, and blah, blah," there's always something that's going to be different and innovative that will change our thinking. And what I love about our agency and the programs department, in general, is we're open to hearing ideas from the community. I mean, people are putting on these programs, we're not putting them all on.