Arts organizations here and beyond are scrambling to stay on their feet while the novel coronavirus pandemic lingers longer than we’d hoped.
Many groups have been nimble about finding online platforms: North Carolina Black Repertory Co. is doing staged readings on Facebook; the Winston-Salem Symphony is performing concerts online; Spring Theatre will present a film with nationwide collaborations on May 29.
But there are many reasons why playing to a live audience is preferable.
Performers get energy from the audience. Real people creating in real time are exciting and inspiring — not to mention, brave.
For the audience, when we experience wonder and beauty in a group at concerts, shows and films, it draws us closer together emotionally. We can identify with each other instead of comparing ourselves to one another.
These wonders don’t happen without money, lots of it.
It’s difficult to monetize Facebook Live and YouTube events and concerts, although there are plenty of ways to donate to your favorite arts groups. You can convert the tickets you bought to canceled shows and concerts into donations. Go to individual websites to find out more.
In the lead
The Winston-Salem Symphony has surpassed its goal of $50,000 for a Musician Impact Fund to help players who are out of work because of the novel coronavirus.
Merritt Vale, president and chief executive of the symphony, sent out a statement last week saying that all 78 musicians under contract will receive support from this pool of funds. The symphony musicians are paid only for each rehearsal and concert that they play. Because of COVID-19, the symphony had to cancel five concerts and postpone one during their 2019-2020 season, resulting in 16 services lost since April 1.
Because the symphony musicians are paid by the service, they often have multiple income streams, such as performances with other ensembles, weddings, church services and teaching gigs, but nearly all of these have also been canceled because of the pandemic.
The symphony also received support from the federal Paycheck Protection Program to pay contracted musicians for the lost services.
Musicians will be able to choose to opt out of the Musician Impact Fund if their financial position hasn’t been affected, to help their colleagues who may not be in the same situation.
Art Nouveau Winston-Salem has established the Artist Relief Impact Fund and launched an online GoFundMe campaign for it. Art Nouveau, an affiliate of the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County that is composed of young people who support and advocate for the arts.
As of Thursday, they had raised $2,900 of their $10,000 goal. It’s a modest sum, and all money will be used to support local individual artists who are being impacted by COVID-19.
Richard Emmett, co-owner of The Ramkat, a popular-music venue, sent a call to action to his patrons last week asking them to support the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA).
NIVA calls independent venues “economic multipliers, community builders, and beloved institutions.” And where else are you going to hear Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, The Drive By Truckers, Old Crow Medicine Show, Between The Buried & Me, Emma Gibbs Band, Lucinda Williams, and Son Volt?
Neither NIVA nor Emmett is asking for money. Rather, they are asking folks who want venues like The Ramkat to survive past the shutdown to contact their legislators and lobby for support. Visit www.nivassoc.org to find out how.
On Tuesday, House Bill 1068 was introduced for the short session of the N.C. Legislature. It calls for “an act to provide funding for nonprofit arts organizations negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” and it could be considered as early as May 18.
House Bill 1068 calls for $3 million to be transferred from the Cornavirus Relief Reserve to the Coronavirus Relief Fund. If provided, the money would be available through the end of 2020.
The North Carolina Artist Relief Fund is based in Raleigh but is designed to help artists across the state who are financially impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
They have sent more than $80,000 in relief funds to 408 artists in 127 N.C. cities and towns since it launched two months ago. You can apply for funds and also donate at https://vaeraleigh.org/artist-relief-fund.
The Winston-Salem Foundation announced last week that it is giving about $69,630, divided across 19 local arts organizations, to fund their online efforts. (See page D3.) The foundation is giving an additional $265,000 to other local nonprofit groups.
As always, the bottom line is the bottom line. If we want our beloved arts organizations — music, dance, theater, visual art — to be thriving when the lockdown is over, then we have got to support them now. Give early and often to keep the City of Arts and Innovation just that.