As we move into April, treating people sick with Covid-19 and preventing others from becoming so remains a priority in New York, as it does across the country. But how can we pay attention to others particularly affected by the crisis? The city-wide shutdown of non-essential services has devastated the arts at all levels: exhibition and performance spaces have closed indefinitely, and thousands of New Yorkers working in the creative industries, many of them ‘self-employed, saw their livelihoods disappear without any assurance that they could return to work. Many of these people also work in bars and restaurants, whose closures threaten to change the face of the industry forever – the longer a restaurant stays closed, restaurant owners will tell you, the harder it will be to reopen.
Some institutions and individuals are getting creative to expand their digital presence. Museums and galleries have opened digital viewing rooms, screened films and organized artist conferences online. Broadway stars offer free Salon concerts with songs from shuttered shows, and the Metropolitan Opera offers a Night opera stream. Meanwhile, licensed dancers and musicians are teaching online and performing live on social media. And restaurants and bars are increasing their delivery options, including craft cocktails.
Even so, the ability of most artists to generate income has been severely hampered, and while the federal stimulus package provision for the arts, support is well below the $ 4 billion sought by advocacy groups. In addition to following from home, art lovers who can have been encouraged to be generous in their purchases and donations, whether for the various grassroots relief campaigns that are popping up on sites like PayPal. and GoFundMe, such as New York Low Income Artist / Freelance Relief Fund, or to non-profit organizations such as the New York Foundation for the Arts, which will organize a online benefits auction featuring works by artists including Donald Lipski and Sandy Skoglund on April 10. Here is a small sample of the many other groups in need. The newly launched Artist relief, which has a $ 10 million seed fund and actively raises funds for more, is a joint initiative organized by the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the MAP Fund , the National YoungArts Foundation and United States Artists will provide emergency grants to creators of all disciplines.
Theater and dance
New York’s theaters turned dark in mid-March, putting a wide range of people, from actors and directors to lighting designers, not to mention the companies that employ them, in a precarious position. Broadway unions made a deal to guarantee the remuneration and health benefits of the members until April 12, but the future remains uncertain, and this is also true in the world of dance. Dance / NYC, which is the New York branch of the national nonprofit Dance / USA, has created a three-pronged relief approach, allowing the donor to determine whether a donation will be directed to dance professionals. independent, organizations or administrative costs.
“Go to the websites of your favorite theaters and artists and see what they’re up to,” said Linda Shelton, executive director of the Joyce Theater. “And, if you are” attending “a workshop, class, or live broadcast performance, we urge you to treat it as if you are attending a performance and contribute what you would pay for a ticket.” Those looking for these improvisational performance offerings might be inspired by what they find. Andrea Miller, founder and artistic director of Gallim, a Brooklyn-based dance company, estimates that up to 75 percent of her annual income has been lost, and yet she also thinks of the deeper value of the performing arts at a time like this. “Dancing is a great healing space,” she said. “Moving is part of our human nature, so it will always find a way to emerge, although it may have to evolve. “
To support actors, dancers and theater staff affected by the closures, consider donating to the Actors Fund, the American Guild of Musical Artists, Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS or Dance / New York.
Art and design
At the individual level, many artists are used to working from home, and some may even look forward to an extended period of social distancing to deepen their practices, but closures and financial uncertainty pose unprecedented challenges. “All major art and design events have been canceled. Teaching opportunities and speaking engagements have been canceled, ”said Malene Barnett, Founder and President of the Black Artists & Designers Guild, a global collective representing artists and designers from the African diaspora. “Interior projects and art commissions are either suspended or canceled. In-person consultations are postponed and the stock market will certainly have an impact on decisions on projects. “
You can support artists and designers by paying them for their labor, much of which is available for sale online through auctions and websites. In addition, Barnett suggested offering time and services. “Artists and designers are actually small business owners, so any kind of virtual assistance is helpful,” she said. “You can volunteer to do copywriting, digital marketing, social media, accounting, administration, web design, or business coaching. “
Book tours and author events have been canceled, which has a particular impact on first authors – nonprofit literary associations have lost key fundraising opportunities and bookstores are closed. Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, considers the coming weeks to be crucial for the literary landscape of the city. “I want New Yorkers to imagine a city without bookstores, or imagine living in a house without books and tell me if they would like to live there,” she said. “Now is the time to recognize how much books teach us, heal us, distract us – and make sure we are supporting a community that has deep value to the cultural life of the city. Buying books remains the primary means of supporting authors and bookstore owners and employees, many of whom have been fired due to closures. For an easy-to-use digital platform that shares its profits with local independents, Lucas recommends librairie.org. Then there’s the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to booksellers, which created a Covid-19 emergency fund.
You may also want to consider donating to a nonprofit literary organization such as House of SpeakEasy, which brings authors and audiences together in innovative ways, often through live performances. “We have recorded most of our performances and we will repackage past shows so that new audiences can enjoy them while they are housebound,” said Paul Morris, executive director of the organization. His team also operates a bookmobile in New York City and, pending CDC approval, he plans to deliver books to nursing homes and other underserved communities.
John deBary has run a bar in New York for over a decade at famous venues including Please don’t say, and spent several years as director of the corporate bar for the Momofuku Catering group. In 2018, he co-founded the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation (RWCF) to support workers in the industry, and the group launched its Covid-19 Relief Fund on March 18. Donations go directly to people in the hospitality industry affected by the closures, organizations helping these workers and also establishing interest-free, unsecured loans to small businesses looking to get back on their feet. “Since we announced the fund,” he said, “we have been inundated with over 10,000 heartbreaking requests for help. Even on a “good” day, restaurant workers are only half an hour away from serious financial difficulties. “
Donate to the RWCF Covid-19 Relief Fund here. In addition, Robin Hood has partnered with Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants (ROAR) to create a fund for those affected in the New York restaurant industry. You can also purchase gift cards or donate to your favorite restaurants and other local businesses, many of which have created their own funds and / or are listed on gift cards, a website specifically designed to support independent businesses during shutdowns.