The Shape of Things to Come...
On Tuesday, St. Patrick's Day for all of us fine Irish folk, every cultural institution in our country shut down in accordance with CDC recommendations for social distancing. Also shut down were churches, sports clubs, gyms, and clubhouses of all types where more than 10 people might congregate at a time.
The effects on the creative community were overwhelming. Artists, teachers, actors, musicians are all self-employed independent contractors. This means, we have no real proveable income in the shape of a W2 needed for unemployment benefits, instead we get 1099's and usually many of them. We pay taxes! My income is taxed at a 15% self employment rate which I have to budget for every year and is due with my annual tax filing.
We all suddenly found ourselves without a job or source of income on Tuesday.
Creative people need audiences to make a living, and we need cultural institutions to host these events. All events for the next three months have been cancelled, and there's a very good chance that will stretch to longer. All plein air events, art classes, arts festivals and classes have been suddenly cancelled around the country.
This means that not only do we have to find a way to scrape by, pay rent, but food, pay bills, but our cultural institutions may not be able to weather a closing of longer than 3 months. Most nonprofit arts org operate on a shoestring budget and barely make ends meet. All rely on income generated by activities in order to function, which is not going to happen anytime soon.
This means that post-virus, many small nonprofits; community supported theatres, art centers, concert venues may not reopen. The cost of brick-and-mortar buildings just got higher than the support for the arts can muster.
We are all scrambling right now to figure out how we can fit in to this new model of business. Smart ones are moving online, which is easier for individuals than for institutions. I am working with some mid-sized arts orgs right now on this very topic.
Our audiences, especially in the category of painting and drawing, are mostly upper middle-class retirement-aged women. This is a high risk category for Corona Virus, and a segment that is often not very tech-savvy, or quick to adopt an online platform.
This makes it a bit harder to connect. A learning curve needs to happen in the next few weeks; a leap of faith by artists, arts patrons, and arts institutions. We need to invest in new strategies that limit human interaction and learn how to use unfamiliar equipment and technology in the personal art-making process.
We have been witnessing a growing movement toward online globalization in our lifetimes. That movement just got Miracle-Gro sprinkled all over it. It is possible that in the next few years we will see an end to brick-and-mortar businesses, and a proliferation of localization and cottage industries online.
Now, more than ever, we need art.
Art fosters hope, and a sense of well-being.
The process of making art creates the same sense of well being in you that prayer and meditation does.
We are stressed out, freaked out, and house bound. We really need art!
In response, many museums have put their collections online and many artists, like myself, have been offering live paint-a-longs for home-bound folks, and video demonstrations.
I have moved all my classes to an online platform and dropped the cost of them by less than half in hopes of making it affordable and doable for the general public.
Many artists, like myself, have taken to doing the same thing, we have to. If you are housebound and interested in art, and can afford to pay for it, please do. Help our creative community to survive and help our cultural institutions weather these uncertain times.
Artists I know are currently doing public murals to lift people's spirits (for free, mind you that's a lot of paint!) classes and events online (which is a time commitment) and many are giving deep discounts on their artworks since all the galleries and stores are closed.
So join me online for the foreable future! I'm offering free paint-a-long classes through facebook on Mondays 1-4pm, 6-9pm and Thursdays 1-4pm.
I'm also offering online classes in painting and drawing on a subscription basis. These classes will start the first week of April with Beginning Drawing class happening Tuesdays, 2-4pm, Beginning Painting happening Mondays 6-8pm and private lessons for individuals. You can click the classes above to find out more information.
Meanwhile, friend me on facebook https://www.facebook.com/shawn.d.joyce and follow along for a class or two and see the power of art for lifting your spirit and bring hope to an uncertain future.
Be well and be creative!