The Show Must Go On!

Story collected by Will McGuirk, website: slowcity.ca

Before her move to Toronto, Vietnamese immigrant Thao Nghiem lived in Oshawa as a student at Durham College. She was enrolled in the Music Business Management program and upon graduation became one of the executive directors for the OMAs, Durham Region’s Music Awards.

“When the pandemic hit Canada in March 2020, we were about to run our award show in April to announce the award winners together with a lineup of music performances. Due to the close down for almost everything, we also had to cancel our in-real-life event. This decision affected everyone working with us including the venue, hotels, performers, partners, sponsors… everyone.

Our team at the OMAs always want to continue our mission to support the music community in Durham Region, in good times and bad. We decided to move our entire award show online through eight livestream broadcasts in 2020, and four broadcasts in 2021, to keep our local music alive. In September 2021, with the partial opening of the facilities, we ran a hybrid model of livestream award show with limited in-person participants. It was fantastic!”

What inspires me the most is that during the darkest time of our pandemic, the music never stops. The songwriters keep writing their songs in their bedrooms, the producers keep making music in their basements, and the artists/ performers keep sharing their voice and talent through online and social media platforms.

Seeing that strength and resilience, hope and positivity, energy and just simply good vibes, I find peace and gratitude. Our team at the OMAs and I myself have been learning more about our wonderful artists and music professionals in the Durham Region and what they have been doing in order to recognize and celebrate them on our platform. It’s inspiring and empowering to showcase these wonderful stories and share them with our community.

After the pandemic, I can’t wait to go out and see more live music! It’s been almost two years. And I believe it goes the same way with our team at the OMAs as well. We are excited to prepare for our award show next year which is our 5-year anniversary. We are going to make a stellar show with the recognition of everyone who has been supporting our journey in the past five years of celebrating music in the Durham Region.

For me, I find myself reaching a whole new level of empathy and sympathy for others. Virtual and from-home working brings certain challenges and difficulties, it’s a new experience. I learn to listen more and understand others before even bringing out my own judgments. It is beautiful because I can see other team members at the OMAs start doing the same thing to me. Going through this experience together, our team is stronger and better than we have ever been.”

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