Season’s greetings from the California Desert Arts Council (CDAC). Artists and arts organizations across all disciplines, despite their most valiant virtual efforts, find themselves in a precarious position: The pandemic has shut them down and cut off their revenue. With the current surge COVID-19 cases, even the optimists who scheduled events for early 2021 are considering a move to spring.

When the crisis began last March, CDAC immediately began promoting resources for the local arts community. And, within the first 75 days of the shutdown, CDAC collaborated with La Quinta Arts Foundation to award financial relief grants to more than 40 Coachella Valley painters, photographers, singers, writers, animators, and graphic designers for creating thoughtful and inspiring works responding to the pandemic. Read about the recipients in these two roundups: Grant Awards 1 and Grant Awards 2. We look forward to serving the creative community in 2021 and beyond.

Meanwhile, the top local art news of the moment surrounds the return of Marilyn Forever, the 26-foot-tall sculpture of Marilyn Monroe by Seward Johnson. The artwork was a spectacle and that gave people a reason to visit downtown Palm Springs when its new sections were under construction. And it was a social media sensation, a boon for the city. But when the city council approved the siting of Marilyn across from Palm Springs Art Museum, the institution’s director — and many other prominent leaders in the community — pushed back. The Desert Sun reports.


In other news:

#RestartArtsCA campaign starts the week of December 7. In the absence of direction from policymakers, a statewide coalition of artists, venue operators, and unions has mobilized to develop safe guidelines for reopening live events in light of COVID-19 as well as a statewide awareness campaign. Californians for the Arts created this tool kit.

The museum takes its annual Art Party online Dec. 4 with celebrity guests including actress Jamie Lee Curtis, Grammy Award-winning singer Steve Tyrell and Tony Award-winning lyricist David Zippel. (The Desert Sun)

The Artists Council has rolled out its new, which has the capacity to host virtual workshops, classes, lectures, critiques, and art book discussions to inform and inspire creativity. It also has a member gallery promoting the sale of Artists Council members’ work. (The Desert Sun)

Tools for Tomorrow received a $20,000 donation from La Quinta Art Celebration to support the organization’s free arts literacy program for Coachella Valley elementary school students. (The Desert Sun)

Artist Phillip K. Smith III is at work on new commissions. (Palm Springs Life)

The MAEX Academy has commissioned artist Rick Rodriguez to create Unite, a 5-by-3-foot aerosol paint on board and canvas, “to commemorate the current state of affairs and remind us of the common practice of coming together as a community and supporting one another as we move forward as one.” (CV Independent)

The second annual Yucca Valley Film Festival went online, screening more than 50 films and hosting interactive Q&A sessions with cast and filmmakers, including Alec Baldwin. (Hi-Desert Star)


Advice, tips, and resources for managing the arts amid a pandemic:

What can — and should — you charge to virtual audiences: Even if people are willing to pay for digital performances, are they willing to pay enough? Consultant Robin Cantrill Fenwick examines the data emerging from the pandemic’s rush to digitize, and where the income opportunities lie. (Arts Professional) 

How to stay creative during the COVID-19 pandemic: Are working from home and the pandemic-related restrictions sapping our creativity — “our ability to put ideas together in new, useful combinations to solve problems”? Yes, but, according to leadership and creativity experts, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are five research-backed strategies to widen your world view and enhance your creativity. (Harvard Business Review)

How to pursue and win an arts grant: A CDAC workshop featuring a trio of experts on the topic offer tips guaranteed to professionalize your pitch.