Refocusing Our Efforts
I hope you are safe and well. I am sending you my best wishes during this difficult time.
I wanted to take a moment to update you on what Abrons Arts Center is doing as we continue to navigate the current public health crisis. Over the last few weeks, our staff have conducted significant outreach to our constituents – artists, teachers, designers and technicians – to assess the impact of this crisis and orient us toward providing needed and vital services. From our many conversations, we have seen the ways that New York City’s shelter-in-place orders have uniquely affected our artists, whose livelihoods depend on the ability to hold public gatherings, teach in schools, or access our studio spaces. Their futures are now uncertain, as venues, schools, community centers, arts organizations, and public spaces continue to be shuttered for an undetermined amount of time.
In response, on Monday, April 13 we launched the Abrons Arts Center and Henry Street Settlement Artist Community Relief Fund. This initial round of micro-grants provided direct cash assistance to our local Lower East Side and Chinatown-based artists and arts workers whose income has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The response to this fund has been staggering, with so many clearly in need. We continue to fundraise to replenish the fund and keep distributing direct relief to artists. If you are able to, we would appreciate your support.
We have also prioritized our artists in Abrons’ broader response to the crisis. Our goal has been to move swiftly but thoughtfully, providing aid and leadership in ways that matter. Here’s what we’ve done so far:
- We expedited and paid all remaining commissions to our 2019/20 season artists, and provided artists whose shows were postponed with “postponement fees” that are near-equal to their artist box office fee.
- We have honored all fees paid to our AIRspace artists-in-residence, and have extended their residencies to next year so they can utilize our space once our building is reopened.
- We have continued to pay all of our teaching artist contracts even when teachers aren’t able to teach (due to school or after-school closures.) We’ve implemented online teaching so that we can continue to provide education (at our Center and in partner schools) and to provide employment to teaching-artists.
- We paid all contracts to tech workers who were directly affected by Abrons show cancellations.
- We have uploaded all of our past content/videos online and, in doing so, provided links to the artists’ Paypal and booking contact information. We’re highlighting different artists each week and promoting direct support to artists.
- Like many organizations, we have established a resource page that is updated daily.
- We continue to work with other arts organizations in our field to advocate for our artists, emphasizing the incredible economic impact that this virus has had.
We remain focused on trying to bring relief to our constituents in need. Our organization was founded on the idea that the arts are essential to building healthy, vibrant communities. Sadly, in extreme times such as these, the work and contributions of artists is often overlooked; sidelined as non-essential. I do not believe this and I know you don’t either.
P.S. Abrons’ physical offices remain closed, but our team continues to work remotely, so please don’t hesitate to be in touch. If you have questions or concerns, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image above: Emily Johnson/Catalyst’s Kinstillatory Mappings in Light and Dark Matter, photo by Ian Douglas.