EASTON — The Waterfowl Festival is launching a first-ever virtual art gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, to offer works of art for sale online.

The in-person Waterfowl Festival — one of the biggest events on the Eastern Shore — has been canceled this year because of the coronavirus.

The new Waterfowl Festival Virtual Art Gallery aims to help artists who would have appeared in person at the Easton event. There will be paintings, carvings, sculptures and photographs for perusal and potential purchases.

There are currently 36 artists, carvers and photographers participating in the virtual art show, according to Heather Grant, marketing manager for the Waterfowl Festival. There are currently 175 pieces slated for sale for the virtual event, which is being sponsored by PNC Wealth Management

Grant said the virtual art gallery does not look to replace the in-person Waterfowl Festival event put off this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the effort is focused on helping the artists.

“We are trying to look for any way we could support our artists,” said Grant, who noted there are artists who come to the Waterfowl Festival from as far away as Switzerland and New Zealand. “They’re going to be missing out on a significant amount of revenue.”

Art sales also bring revenue to the festival itself. “We get a commission from our artists. It is our highest source of revenue behind ticket sales. We are hoping to recoup a little bit of that.”

Grant said the virtual art gallery will run into next year with the Waterfowl Festival planning to celebrate its 50th anniversary then. This year’s canceled festival would have been the 50th anniversary.

She said the virtual art show is also a chance for the Easton-based Waterfowl group to further develop and implement its e-commerce efforts. “This was also a good impetus for us to do that,” she said.

Waterfowl Festival Board President Kevin Greaney said the virtual art gallery will also help build momentum toward 2021 festival events.

“Obviously we would prefer to be holding the Festival in person,” Greaney said in a statement. “However, these difficult times have offered us the time to create this new opportunity to use our website to support our artists while providing a small revenue stream for us. We want folks to be excited about what we are planning for 2021 and at the same time remember the impact that the lack of a Festival in 2020 is having on the local economy.”

The Virtual Art Gallery will launch Sunday, Nov. 1, online at WaterfowlFestival.org.

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