In hindsight, former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley may have done us a favor.
During deliberations over the first bipartisan coronavirus relief bill, Haley tweeted:
These are the items included in the stimulus bill:
$75 mill for public television/radio
$25 mil for the Kennedy Center
$75 mil for the Natl Endowment for the Arts
$75 mill for the Natl Endowment for the Humanities
How many more people could have been helped with this money?
Quick as a flash, fellow tweeters reminded her that providing support to these institutions will, in fact, help people — after all, as Ben Davis put it for ArtNet, “People who work for arts organizations are real people with real jobs.” (They also reminded her that the millions that distress her were less than 1% of the package.)
Not only that, but Americans are benefiting right now from the fruits of the artistic communities’ labors. In many cases, their work is helping Americans stay sane and healthy while sequestered at home. In Greensboro that has meant a variety of virtual performances.
Triad Stage has begun a free Facebook Live streaming performance series during the pandemic shutdown, including a late-March concert by singer/songwriter Lyn Koonce in the theater’s UpStage Cabaret.
Meanwhile, the downtown GreenHill Center for North Carolina Art has taken to the internet to bring gallery tours, art workshops for children and adults and visits to artists’ studios as part of what it calls the Virtual GreenHill initiative.
“For us, it was very important to adapt to changing circumstances and launch Virtual GreenHill, which is in essence a new way for us to connect with our audience,” GreenHill Executive Director Barbara Richter told Jennifer Bringle in this week’s GoTriad.
Likewise, exhibits at UNCG’s Weatherspoon Art Museum are available for viewing at weatherspoonart.org/collection.
The Carolina Theatre plans virtual open mics, virtual tours, livestreams and pre-recorded shows.
And Dance Project, which normally holds classes in the Greensboro Cultural Center, is now offering dance instruction online, as is Royal Expressions Contemporary Ballet.
It’s no surprise that local artists have seized the moment to be more creative and innovative.
Even so, carrying on in the shadow of COVID-19 hasn’t been easy. Faced with little income and home-bound audiences, Triad Stage director Preston Lane laid off two-thirds of his 26-member staff last month.
“To tell them I no longer had work for them was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life,” Lane said in a recent video message to patrons of the regional professional theater.
You can help. The Greensboro Artist Emergency Relief Fund is making small grants, as it is able, to individual artists. You can donate at https://www.artsgreensboro.org/.
But please consider your gifts an investment. The arts do more than enhance our quality of life and enrich the cultural fabric of the community. According to a national 2017 report, “Arts and Economic Prosperity,” Guilford County’s arts and culture industry annually generates $162 million in economic activity and employs 5,963.
We look forward to the day when local performers can see and hear our appreciation in person once again. In the meantime, bravo to them for finding inventive ways to touch us even when touching is forbidden.