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Santa Rosa’s ’Inside Out There’ website boosts business, arts during pandemic

Sometimes, a tough situation inspires people to come up with a better solution.

For the past seven years, the city of Santa Rosa has maintained an online directory of local attractions called “Out There Santa Rosa” to promote tourism. But of course, tourism is taking a hit right now.

Last month, amid coronavirus concerns, the city rolled out an upgraded, retitled“ Inside Out” There (insideoutthere.com), an interactive website offering easy online access to the arts, restaurants and other local businesses.

Visitors to insideoutthere.com can choose from nearly 60 options organized into easy-to-use categories, with more expected as intermittent closures continue to limit in-person access to the city’s events and venues.

The Music section, called “Quarantunes,” features videos created exclusively for the site by local musicians including Schlee (who uses one name only), John Courage, Timothy O’Neil and Kalei Yamanoha. There also are clips from past editions of the annual Railroad Square Music Festival.

The Art section offers up a range of online galleries curated by Santa Rosa’s Public Art Program, several of which are virtual versions of exhibits that had to be postponed because of the virus. Much of the work is available for sale through the artists.

Additional categories include Eat, which covers restaurants and markets and includes information for to-go and online ordering; Drink, with listings for all local brewers, in-town wineries, bars and specialty beverage stores and a section called Market presenting a range of shops and crafts makers that sell through them.

“The site will grow and change over time,” said Tara Thompson, the city’s arts coordinator. “This is a structure that we’ve provided. Next, we’ll reach out to more business, artists, makers and other individuals.”

Businesses are encouraged to visit the Get Listed page on the site and complete the form to add a new listing.

To Thompson, this next move is a logical extension of the city’s longstanding public art program, which places sculptures and other outdoor works of art various places around the city on a rotating basis.

She believes it also helps fill a gap left by the art studio tours, craft fairs and rotating exhibits at public buildings, all precluded by shelter-in-place orders and bans on mass gatherings.

Beyond that, Inside Out There can provide a permanent platform for information about local arts programs and recreational venues.

“We see this lasting long beyond COVID-19,” Thompson said. “It not only provides a showcase but it can be ongoing for purchasing things.”

Like its predecessor, “Out There Santa Rosa,” the new program is contracted out to The Idea Cooperative, a brand strategy and creative collective serving Sonoma and Marin counties.

“It’s important to remember that we’ll need a way to stay connected and support local artists and businesses long after COVID-19,” Raissa de la Rosa, the city’s deputy director of economic development, said in a statement announcing the new program. “ ’Inside Out There” is about preserving the Santa Rosa we love for the long haul.”

You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @danarts.

Dan Taylor

Arts & Entertainment, The Press Democrat

Do you take fun seriously? I know I do. Tell me what you want to know about arts and entertainment in the North Bay to make the best use of your leisure time and money. As a longtime local arts journalist, I have learned where to look and who to ask.

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