While everyone has been hard hit by COVID-19, it has been particularly difficult for the arts sector, where finding social-distancing workarounds can be challenging. Coronavirus has temporarily put an end to First Friday Artwalks, crowded summer festivals, and attending concerts and theater productions.
Not to say that the arts in our region have come to a full stop. The Museum of Northern Arizona reopened recently on a limited basis, with patrons having to purchase tickets and schedule their visit in advance so the museum can spread out visitors. Masks are required and multiple other measures have been taken to prevent COVID-19 spread.
That is one of the few in-person venues you can enjoy right now, however. As with so many other aspects of our lives, we’ve moved online for most of our local art appreciation. For example:
- Last night, a slimmed down Celtic Festival was held on the Flagstaff City-Coconino County Public Library’s Facebook page.
- Artists are sharing their latest creations on Instagram and Facebook with the #CreativeFlagstaff hashtag.
- Tonight starting at 8:30 pm, Lowell Observatory will present a free live virtual event featuring Comet NEOWISE, just as the comet makes its closest approach to Earth.
- If you go to the FSO Strong tab on the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra’s website, you’ll find a series of short videos from individual musicians and Maestro Charles Latshaw.
Looking at the economic side of the arts, more than $87,000 has been distributed so far to about 40 local arts and science nonprofits. This relief fund, administered by FAC, was made possible by the City of Flagstaff’s BBB Art & Science Fund, a challenge grant from the Flagstaff Rotary Club, individual donations and money shifted from other FAC programs.
Organizations that have benefited with grants ranging from $1,000 to $7,500 include the Artists’ Coalition of Flagstaff, Ballet Folklórico de Colores, Master Chorale of Flagstaff, Theatrikos, The Arboretum of Flagstaff, and the Flagstaff Festival of Science. Meanwhile, another $85,000 was distributed to local arts organizations through the federal CARES Act.
There’s also an opportunity for you to encourage your inner artist with the Mask Responsibly Art Competition. All forms of art and expression are welcome and should either promote safe practices (such as social distancing or wearing masks) or explore a theme of the artist’s choosing as long as it relates to the pandemic. Prizes will be awarded and the deadline to enter is August 9.
Finally, I wanted to share a document signed by myself and many other leaders in the arts, business and science communities concerning safe practices and COVID-19. In it we pledge, for ourselves and our organizations, to follow the simple strategies that will slow the spread of coronavirus: observing social distancing; being diligent about sanitation and hand-washing; and wearing masks, indoors and outdoors, when distancing is insufficient, including in places of business.
You can see the full document and all 23 signers here. In the spirit of that pledge, I’ll sign off by urging you to do all of those things: wash your hands, wear your mask, and practice social distancing.
Together, our actions can affect the course of this pandemic. If we make responsible choices, it’s likely that we’ll enjoy the arts in person once again sooner rather than later.