At the risk of stating the obvious, it has been a heck of a long time since March 13 when the pandemic was declared. I no longer say things like, “Well, it can’t get any worse.” or “When we get back to normal...” Coupled with the intense pain of racial injustice that has sparked social unrest, we’ll all be continuing to dance on quicksand well beyond the November General Election.
As we know, the arts and culture sector has been devastated by COVID-19. As an essential part of our lives as citizens, and of our economy (see Lost Art: Measuring COVID 19’s Devasting Impact on the Creative Economy ), creative workers and artists need to be understood as a part of our recovery and to be supported economically.
With an abundance of caution, museums and other cultural organizations, including The Walters Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the American Visionary Art Museum, are opening to limited groups. Hopefully, some of our smaller and treasured organizations like the Great Blacks in Wax Museum will be able to follow suit.
Mayor Jack Young’s Executive Order, Partial Reopening Pursuant to Phase Two, also allows for performing arts organizations to open, including indoors at 50% capacity or 100 persons. Questions remain about the extent to which patrons will feel comfortable and safe venturing out. How will limited attendance and seating support the revenue needed to operate each venue? Most importantly, can performers and audience members be safe—a primary concern for artists and administrators?
There are so many “ifs,” but what we do know is that virtually and in person, arts and culture remain central to our civilization and are particularly crucial during this time of divisiveness. Arts and culture create a platform that reaches across divides and creates understanding, and for communicating pain, rage, and hunger for a world that is better and more just. Let’s make sure that our policymakers and other leaders know that while we must take care of basic human needs, arts and culture remain a priority.
P.S. Visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/gbca to learn more about how you can support the important programs of GBCA.