Arts organizations, many of which are financially vulnerable even in the best of times, find themselves on life support as coronavirus spreads around the globe.
Museums, theaters, concert halls and opera stages of all sizes have closed. Performers and behind-the-scenes employees are being furloughed or laid off.
As many fear prolonged damage to the arts infrastructure as the country heads into economic recession, lasting closures have profound consequences and certain organizations even cease to exist.
Art can sustain humanity in its darkest hours. Here are possible ways to add a little light:
Buy a membership: From big art museums to small artist-run organizations, membership is one crucial way to help stabilize operating budgets.
Membership also strengthens community. Local memberships include Weatherspoon Art Museum (weatherspoonart.org), GreenHill (greenhillnc.org), Greensboro Science Center (greensboroscience.org), Greensboro History Museum, (greensborohistory.org), High Point Museum (highpointnc.gov), Center for Visual Artists (greensboroart.org) or Greensboro Children’s Museum (gcmuseum.com).
Take online dance or music classes: Many unemployed dancers and musicians have begun offering classes online. Some classes are free, but some include a link to Venmo or Zelle if you’d like to donate.
Some are offering private lessons. For those who can afford the extra expense, it’s a way to support the community while learning and getting a much-needed distraction. Check out lessons at Greensboro City Arts (tinyurl.com/ugp33a).
Donate your theater ticket: Was the show you’ve been looking forward to canceled? Instead of asking for a refund, consider donating the cost to the theater instead.
Become a theater subscriber: Subscriptions, the beating heart of many theater companies, have been on a yearslong downturn. Rebuild that base by committing vital funds and counting yourself as part of its community. You can take advantage of subscriber perks when programming is up and running again.
Local theaters include Triad Stage (triadstage.org) and Community Theatre of Greensboro (ctgso.org).
Buy CDs and vinyl rather than streaming music: This ensures that artists get a bigger chunk of the proceeds than they would through a streaming service. You can order CDs and vinyl from sites such as SoundCloud and Bandcamp, not just giants like Amazon and Apple. You also can buy music directly from the labels and, better still, the artists’ websites.
Mail-order from independent book and record stores: Some may still have knowledgeable clerks with whom you can consult over the phone. Some independent bookstores in our area that are processing online orders include Scuppernong Books (scuppernongbooks.com) and Wonderland Bookshop children’s bookstore (wonderlandbookshopnc.com) in Greensboro and Sunrise Books in High Point (sunrisebookshp.indielite.org).
Buy existing art: Galleries with a range of prices, from under $100 to deep into six figures, have set up virtual viewing. Most artists don’t have gallery representation, so go to them directly. You’ll find many individuals — say, a nature photographer selling prints — are taking internet orders. See local art museums listed under No. 1.
Use social media: If you can’t afford to donate to a cause, consider leveraging the power of your social network. From art programs for kids to health care initiatives for artists, charitable causes are on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Promote the ones you like and spread the word.
Can’t afford a painting? Share your love and appreciation for a local artist’s work on social. The artist may appreciate the promotion — and draw a patron through your network.
Donate to a mutual-aid fund for artists: Many are cropping up to help all kids of artists demonstrating financial need.
Local relief funds include Artist Emergency Relief Fund (artsgreensboro.org) and Triad Musicians Matter (triadmusiciansmatter.org).
Watch and donate to an artist’s, comedian’s or musician’s livestream: Willie Nelson isn’t the only musician livestreaming from his living room.
Find a band, musician or artist you particularly like, tune into their virtual shows and donate each time you do. One place to find Triad musicians is at facebook.com/groups/TriadAreaMusicians.
Buy merch: This is a particularly good way to get funds to touring musicians, dance troupes and theater groups that rely on moving physical merchandise — T-shirts, stickers, mugs and more — to shore up the cost of doing business. Be sure to buy directly from the organization, band or group.