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Facing Crisis, Arts Groups Push for Their Own Bailout – The New York Times

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The so-called coronavirus curve is far from flat, but for many of the country’s arts organizations, revenue certainly is.

Ticket sales are practically nonexistent. Parents are requesting refunds for children’s dance classes. Any live event scheduled for before June is probably canceled, including springtime black-tie galas, which often bring in large chunks of revenue for organizations.

So, like other sectors of the economy, arts organizations are turning to local and federal taxpayers for help, trying to make the case that American culture needs a bailout, too.

It has not been an easy sell, coming at a time when many pillars of the economy, from airlines to restaurants to public transportation, are facing existential crises and needing handouts themselves. But it is a fight the country’s museums and performing arts groups are used to waging.

A group representing museums, backed by some Democratic lawmakers in New York and elsewhere, have asked for $4 billion in the federal stimulus package, a dream number few believed would win broad support. The bill introduced by the House Democrats includes $300 million for the National Endowment for the Arts and another $300 million to the National Endowment for the Humanities, which each can pass on the money to institutions that need it. The Senate bill, delivered by Republicans, puts those numbers at $100 million each.

Even in normal times, the federal government gives little support to cultural institutions, apart from the Smithsonian, which was created by Congress. Frequent proposals by Republicans to cut the budget or eliminate the N.E.A., one of the few sources of public revenue for the arts, have put cultural organizations in a permanent defensive stance. And given the current political climate, where some of the arts have become refuges for the anti-Trump resistance, this state of affairs is unlikely to change.

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Ellen Walker, the executive director of the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, said that a common argument against funding the arts sector during periods of financial hardship goes something like this: Arts groups may be “nice,” but they’re far from “necessary.”

At least one Republican lawmaker, Representative Bill Johnson of Ohio, took that stance as Congress debated how to carve up emergency funding for coronavirus relief, assigning $35 million to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in the House version of the bill.

In an effort to convince skeptics of their importance, cultural institutions have tried to calculate their economic impact in measurable figures that legislators — even those who don’t attend the ballet or the theater regularly — can appreciate. One such statistic: There were 5.1 million jobs associated with arts and culture in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

In Seattle, a group of about two dozen cultural institutions — including the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Seattle Opera — added up their attendance in 2019 and compared it with the attendance at home games for the city’s football, baseball and soccer teams. (Their calculations showed about 3.2 million sports fans, compared with 8.7 million arts attendees.) They planned to send the figures to Seattle City Council members to support a potential relief package for arts groups.

Credit…Angela Sterling
Credit…Angela Sterling

The city, which has been hit hard by the virus, is already further along than most when it comes to offering financial help. Seattle has agreed to waive or defer two months of rent payment for arts groups on city-owned property, and the mayor signed a $1.1 million funding package to support cultural organizations.

But art administrators worry that, when divided among a long list of arts groups, the city funding won’t go far.

“That million dollars is going to go very quickly,” said Kevin Malgesini, the managing director of Seattle Children’s Theater. “I don’t anticipate these adding up to enough to save the theater.”

For the children’s theater, which has already had to lay off three workers after canceling or cutting short seven shows, survival will mean designing a patchwork of different funding sources — including city, county and federal assistance, as well as private donations, he said.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which has projected a shortfall of nearly $100 million this year, started pushing the hashtag #CongressSaveCulture. In a letter to congressional leaders, the American Alliance of Museums warned that museums nationwide are losing at least $33 million each day. The Theater Communications Group, a nonprofit that supports community theaters across the country, urged organizations to contact their members of Congress.

“This isn’t a frivolous, fun little thing,” Representative Chellie Pingree, a Maine Democrat and leader of the Congressional Arts Caucus, said on Monday. “This is an employer of a lot of people and a big sector of the economy.”

Nongovernmental funding streams dedicated to Covid-19 relief have already started up, including a $75 million fund set up by the New York Community Trust, which is offering grants and loans to cultural nonprofits as well as social service agencies.

At a time of enormous uncertainty, arts administrators are looking to measures taken during the 2008 fiscal crisis for some sense of how federal funding will work.

In 2009, as part of a larger economic stimulus, Congress appropriated $50 million to the N.E.A. Sixty percent of those funds went directly to grants for nonprofit arts organizations, while the rest went to state and regional arts organizations. The N.E.A. said that the grants helped preserve 7,000 arts jobs.

In Europe, politicians have also recognized cultural workers’ urgent need for support. On Tuesday evening, Arts Council England, which is supported by lottery revenue, announced a £160 million package — some $180 million — to help arts groups and workers in the country.

Support for freelancers, including artists and writers, has been made available in some countries like Germany. In Berlin, they can apply for a 5,000 euro grant, worth about $5,400.

In the United States, arts workers are pushing for any unemployment insurance and sick leave benefits included in federal legislation to be easily available to self-employed artists — people like Vickie Vipperman, an artist from outside Nashville, Tenn., who creates handwoven clothes and accessories. Ms. Vipperman has already lost a third of her annual income from canceled art fairs, and her husband, a guitarist, is seeing gigs disappear.

“It’s an abrupt stop in cash flow,” she said. “They’ve turned off the faucet.”

In the arts world, employees of every stripe have been hard hit, but administrators are also wary of asking for too much from a government dealing with shortages of critical health care equipment like masks, gowns and ventilators.

Ginny Louloudes, the executive director of the Alliance of Resident Theaters in New York, said that it’s already difficult asking the government to support the arts when there’s no pandemic. Now, administrators have to tread lightly.

“We have to realize that the city needs to build hospitals, it needs to staff hospitals, it needs masks,” she said. “We have to be very careful about how we frame the message.”

Alex Marshall contributed reporting.

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Vancouver Art Gallery, Royal B.C. Museum launch free digital activities for the whole family – CBC.ca

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The novel coronavirus has forced museums and galleries to shut their doors, but a couple of British Columbia’s biggest have made it possible to enjoy some of what they have to offer from the comfort of your couch.

The Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) and the Royal B.C. Museum (RBCM) in Victoria, B.C. are now offering live, interactive events online on a regular basis while people are holed up at home to slow the spread of the virus.

Every Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. and Friday at 4:30 p.m., the VAG will stream conversations with guests from local and international arts communities as part of its new digital Art Connects series. The events are free and anyone can join using the web-based video conferencing tool Zoom.

The series kicked off March 31 with two curators giving viewers an in-depth look at the VAG’s newest exhibition The Tin Man Was a Dreamer: Allegories, Poetics and Performances of Powerwhich was meant to open in the gallery the week the building closed.

“It’s a way that we can feature international artists during the situation,” said VAG’s interim chief curator Diana Freundl.

Freundl said she has already seen an enthusiastic response from the public, with more than one hundred people registering for the first event within days after it was promoted.

You can find out more details on how to participate in VAG’s Art Connects events here.

Drawing dinosaurs

The province’s flagship museum is offering activities for kids every Wednesday at 11 a.m. starting April 1. 

First up for the wee ones at RBCM is learning to draw a dinosaur with Victoria Arbour, the museum’s paleontology curator.

And not just any dino, but Buster, one of the first and most complete skeletons of a mountain dinosaur found in B.C. that Arbour helped identify and name.

Victoria Arbour looks over items from the paleontology collection at the Royal B.C. Museum. Arbour is looking forward to answering children’s questions about dinosaurs while teaching how to draw them. (Brandy Yanchyk/Canadian Press)

“I’ve got dinosaurs on my brain a lot of the time,” said Arbour Tuesday in an interview on On The Island.

She said drawing is a big part of her scientific research and she will be encouraging kids to ask her whatever they want to know about dinosaurs while they draw.

All that is needed to join Arbour is a Zoom connection, paper and a pencil.

And grownups, there is something at RBCM for you too.

Every Tuesday and Thursday at noon, the museum is offering online chats with curators and archivists to learn more about what they do, and how they do it from home these days. 

To find out more about participating in RBCM’s online programs visit here.

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Museum challenge has people to recreate famous works of art at home | Mapped – Daily Hive

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Channel your inner artist and bring some creativity to your quarantine with a challenge from the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California.

The museum issued a fun competition across their social media channels on Wednesday enlisting fans to recreate their favourite pieces of art with three household objects.

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“Thousands and thousands of re-creations later, we’re in awe of your creative powers and sense of humor,” the museum wrote in a blog post.

According to the post, the challenge was inspired by Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.

However, they’ve updated and adapted the playful game by using digitized, downloadable works from Getty’s online collection.

The competition has seen thousands of submissions from around the world of people utilizing the materials in their homes to create their own renditions of some of the most iconic pieces of art.

Getty Museum also provides helpful tips for those who may feel creatively stuck in forming their masterpieces. The full list can be found in the blog post.

“The only tools you need for this activity are your imagination and a picture of a work of art you like or find interesting,” the post describes.

Participants are instructed to browse the online collection and select a keyword to search for ideas.

If you have a particular household item that you think would work well, you can also begin by searching for that as your keyword.

Once you have an idea in mind of which piece of art you would like to create, the next step is to find the right materials.

“Any objects are fine: from a blank piece of paper to your most elaborate hat,” the post explains.

“You can stick to 3 and see what you come up with, but you’re welcome to use as many as you like.”

Getty Museum also encourages the incorporation of pets to add a fun flair to your submission.

And with that, you are ready to create!

If you plan on posting to social media once you’re finished, be sure to use the hashtags #betweenartandquarantine and #tussenkunstenquarataine.

Here are some of our favourite submissions:

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ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre looking for artists to exhibit in 2021 – Alberni Valley News

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MELISSA MARTIN

SPECIAL TO THE NEWS

Although the Rollin Art Centre is currently closed to the public due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Community Arts Council is still accepting artist applications for the 2021 calendar year.

Don’t miss this opportunity to have your own art exhibit or group exibit. Application forms are available online at www.alberniarts.com. All submissions must be sent by email to admincac@shawcable.com.

The deadline for applications is April 30, 2020.

SHOW POSTPONED

Due to Covid-19, the Celtic Chaos fundraising performance has been postponed (not cancelled). A new date will be announced as soon as possible. All tickets will be honoured.

WORKSHOPS CANCELLED

The watercolour workshop with Victoria artist Joanne Thomson and the Fun Flowers painting workshop at North Island College have both been cancelled. Email admincac@shawcable.com for a full refund if you were registered to be in either of these workshops.

GALLERY AND EVENTS

In response to the growing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and for the safety of our communities, the Rollin Art Centre gallery will be closed until further notice. This means that we will be postponing all performances and programs until further notice. If you have any questions or concerns about the gallery and programming —or are looking for a way to be creative during this period! —please reach out to admincac@shawcable.com.

*If you have any questions regarding cancelled/postponed events or programs, please email at the above address.

Melissa Martin is the Arts Administrator for the Community Arts Council, at the Rollin Art Centre and writes for the Alberni Valley News. Call 250-724-3412.

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