We are the senior class of the Harrisonburg High School Fine Arts Academy. For the last three years, we have been challenged to think creatively and collaboratively, exploring aspects of the world through an artistic lens. As a culmination of our time in the Academy, we have been working on a year-long capstone project, one that emphasizes collaboration, community connections, and creation not replication. From the start of our process in this capstone project, we have had two important goals we wanted to focus on: creating a community space for the arts to be shared and addressing climate change. Over the course of this year, our vision for exactly what this would look like has changed many times; however, those two principles have remained our guiding forces in decision-making. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, the end result of our efforts seems uncertain. We are experiencing challenges we never thought we’d face, but as Fine Arts Academy students, we are used to finding creative ways to move forward. As a whole, we place great value on the artistic process, and though our current situation isn’t what we anticipated or hoped for, the impact of COVID-19 has fit into the framework of our project and has brought up some new questions for us to address. In light of all these developments, we feel it is necessary to update our Mission Statement to properly reflect our capstone project Flourish. As artists in Harrisonburg, we have experienced firsthand the struggle of finding available venues to share work. In hopes of remedying this lack, we decided to build an outdoor stage that would be convenient for local artists to use. The stage will be located at Keister Elementary School and will be available for anyone to reserve, free of charge, to share art. The decision to pick an elementary school as our location was motivated largely by our desire to build community through the arts across the generations of Harrisonburg residents. We hope that this stage will provide a space to foster a love of the arts in our community’s youth, both through opportunities to create art and to be inspired by older artists. In that same vein, we believe that coming together as a community must extend to the global issue of climate change. As a whole, we have been too passive about this situation, often passing it off as something upcoming generations will just have to deal with. In the last week, COVID-19 has shown us that we are not as all-powerful or as immune as we think we are. If one virus can make the world halt, the impending problems of global warming will certainly hit hard. Though the effects of climate change are not quite so immediate in daily life as the coronavirus, they soon will be if we don’t do something about it now. That being said, in this week, we have also seen that the world is capable of coming together in a time of crisis. Across every continent, we see people actively working to beat this pandemic. People are taking advice from scientists to heart and doing what needs to be done. There is great beauty and hope in that for the action we may take for the health of our planet. Also in this week, we have seen a rise in people supporting each other, albeit from afar. In a time of fear and economic uncertainty, many artists have stepped up, gifting their work to the public to keep spirits up and provide glimmers of beauty. Art is a powerful tool in times of hardship; that is something we have believed in and have strived to do in our project from the very beginning. To inaugurate the stage, we had planned to present a dance inspired by the effects of over-industrializing our world. Our initial vision was to illustrate the destruction that machines can cause to the natural world. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging us to shift our thinking and design. We do not want to demonize the creation of machines in the world. It is because of them that we have made so many advances. It is because of technology that we are able to effectively do medical research and spread that information to the public. Right now, while we are stuck at home, we are relying on our technology to keep us connected to the outside world and to each other. For us in this project, technology is allowing us to continue our work. Because we cannot create in the same physical space, we are using technology to transform our work from a live performance to a digital one. Given the situation we are all living in at this moment, we cannot deny the positive impacts that technological innovations have had on our world. Our project, nonetheless, retains its commitment to thinking critically about our responsibilities for stewardship of the natural world. While machines are creating progress in human life, they are also creating pollution, waste, and greenhouse gases that are harming our planet. In our digital performance, we hope to use our music, movement, and imagery to dramatize a process of finding the line between appropriate dependence on machines and dangerous overuse, so that the natural world remains intact. Our dance enacts the accelerating presence of machines. The movement builds to a chaotic climax, finally reaching a breaking point, after which creative new insights to the problem begin to flourish. This is to show how sometimes, in responding to a cataclysm, we can create real change. Right now, we can only hope that the COVID-19 crisis, and our response to it, can show us the way to combat other seemingly overwhelming challenges like climate change. We believe that both the digital presentation and our stage at Keister will strengthen the community, as advocates for both the arts and active climate change awareness. Though we don’t know exactly what the next few weeks will bring, we are doing our best to continue moving forward. We believe in the transformative power of art and its ability to engage constructively with the challenges urgently confronting our world. We hope that our project will sustain a space for that engaged art in our Harrisonburg community for years to come.