Okay, we all know that Austin, Texas, has the national reputation for being weird, but I think Bloomington is just as weird.

Austin is considered weird because of its “anything goes” music and arts scene and because it’s the polar opposite politically from the rest of the state. Sound familiar?

I don’t worry about Bloomington losing its weirdness by changing from blue to red, but in this pandemic, I do worry about our musicians, theater community, and artists. The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music normally puts on more than a thousand performances a year. What are all those talented students doing now, I wonder?

Undoubtably, the music school will recover, but our local artistic community is more vulnerable. There are hardly any venues for musicians to play, our live theaters are dark, and our artists have fewer opportunities to sell their work.

I’m heartened by the fact that our theater companies have shown impressive resilience during the pandemic. A full rundown of the creative ways they’ve adapted can be found on Page 24. Another example of ingenuity is how the amazing Krista Detor put on a couple of plays for live audiences in her own backyard artist retreat (Page 30).

Our main feature story, “Celebrating Our Local Artists,” presents the creations of 17 artists who work in a variety of mediums. Maybe you’ll want to take home something.

What also makes Bloomington weird is that our downtown consists mainly of locally owned stores and restaurants. In most cities, downtowns are dominated by national chains; Indianapolis, for example.

The short feature in this issue, “Help Our Local Stores! Come Shop the Square,” will hopefully give a little boost to our locally owned retailers, both with purchases in person and online at their websites.

My fervent wish is that when the pandemic is finally over, our musicians, our theater groups, our artists, and our shops will still be here, and that Bloom will still be around to write about them.

Please Bloomington, stay weird.

Malcolm Abrams
[email protected]