Like almost any other industry, the arts took a serious hit amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Central New York arts sector projects $15 million in losses by September. CNY Arts Executive Director Stephen Butler says local theaters, museums and galleries are at a disadvantage in the race to reopen.
“We can’t provide curbside pickup or touchless delivery of the arts. It’s something that has to be experienced in person. Audiences are telling us that they’ll be most comfortable coming back when there’s an effective vaccine.”
So CNY Arts, in partnership with the Central New York Community Foundation, created a $1 million relief fund to encourage local arts organizations that can operate within the guidelines to safely reopen. The fund will also help those that can’t safely reopen now to stay afloat. But Butler says it’s about more than just dollars and cents.
“The organizations that are reopening see this as a service to the community. But they also recognize the cost factor. It may actually be costing them a little bit more, but they think it’s important to do, even if it’s not generating them the income it would generate in a normal year.”
A survey conducted for CNY Arts found an average of four full-time employees laid off at each local arts organization. Butler understands that the arts will look different during the pandemic, but the demand has not wavered. He says Central New York needs the arts.
“Necessity is the mother of invention. We’ve heard everything from two character shows, of course with limited audiences. And quartets, as opposed to whole bands.”
More than $105,000 has been raised towards the million dollar goal. Butler hopes to bring in as many donations and grants as possible by October. That is when cash reserves at most arts organizations are expected to be depleted. You can contribute online here.