Devastating. Unprecedented. Dire. This is how local arts leaders describe the current state of affairs as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) shutters museums, galleries, theaters, and performance venues across the Coachella Valley. They’ve canceled events, refunded patrons, sent home talent and back-of-the-house staff, and begun strategizing for their survival.
The hurt, including lost economic impact, has already proved crippling in the short term, but the prospect of losing our most vital arts organizations for the long term calls for our focused attention, as the desert’s distinctive culture faces an existential threat.
“We must mobilize as a community to support the arts, which fuel our economy by attracting cultural tourism and elevate our quality of life,” says Christi Salamone, president and CEO of California Desert Arts Council (CDAC), a nonprofit organization that unifies, empowers, and promotes the region’s arts and culture assets.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the creative sector in the Coachella Valley was generating almost $1 billion in annual economic impact and accounting for about 1 in 5 employed people.
“We are all in this together,” the CDAC board of directors says. “Throughout this crisis and beyond, CDAC will keep you up-to-date with the latest information, resources, and guidance for arts organizations navigating an uncertain future.”
Here are several ways the community can contribute now:
• Donate the money you would have spent on a show ticket or museum admission directly to the nonprofit organization.
• Buy art from a local artist or gallery. Check the websites of your favorites. You’ll be at home a lot in the next few months. A new work of art will enhance your surroundings.
• Volunteer from home. You can assist with telephone calls, paperwork, and emails to help an organization stay close its audience.
• Advocate for the support of the creative community during the crisis by writing to your elected officials to express the importance of the arts. Remember, the arts define the character and express the values of our communities, provide a livelihood for creative people, foster innovation and civic engagement, boost business, and bridge cultural and socio-economic divides.
• Connect with fellow artists and organizations to collaborate and share resources.
• Grantmakers in the Arts: COVID-19 Arts Funding Action update
• COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resources
• Craft Emergency Relief Fund
• Americans for the Arts COVID-19 Resource and Response Center
• Fundraisers must assert the value of the arts