Artists need your help now more than ever

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March 23, 2020

We are in uncharted territory. Each day brings us new and frightening statistics about the virus amongst us and leaves us with more questions than answers. I, like so many, feel anxious, frustrated, and yes, at times, afraid. There is so much that I cannot control. I CAN however control how I focus my energy and the energy of the Arts Council’s efforts.

Tom Katzenmeyer, president & CEO of the Greater Columbus Arts Council

Tom Katzenmeyer, president & CEO of the Greater Columbus Arts Council

Our current focus is on how we can help. I am very fortunate that my anxiety is not compounded by worries about basic needs like paying rent and getting groceries. Unfortunately, this is not true for so many hardworking people, including many artists in our community.

One thing we can do to help is to provide relief and support to those in the artistic community who desperately need their basic needs met. This is why the Greater Columbus Arts Council set up the COVID-19 Emergency Relief for Artists Fund and why I am asking every person who is able to please donate to that fund. We can’t do this without you.

The Arts Council redirected grants funds to launch this program but the reality is that the demand is greater than the supply. We launched this relief program less than a week ago and we are already dangerously close to being out of money. In just a few days, we’ve raised just over $11,000 but that’s only 10% of our goal.  We need the community, we need you, to chip in.

There is a lot that I do not know in these uncertain times, but here are a few things that I do know:

As events closed and people were asked to stay at home, artists and arts organizations immediately responded with virtual events and free videos of performances. They asked for nothing. They simply gave what they could to help the people of our community find connection and solace.

When we opened applications for the Emergency Relief Fund, we capped the grant amount per applicant at $1,000 to serve as many artists as possible. Think about it—how long could you pay your rent, bills, buy groceries and support your family on $1,000? I am moved to see that many people are asking for less than $1,000, requesting only the bare minimum that they need to get through. They are thinking of all of the other artists who also need these funds.

Many artists also work in the food service industry. So in addition to losing paying gigs, they have lost their supplemental income.  And, for many, rent is due in a week or already past due.

Help us make sure that Franklin County artists don’t have to worry about a roof over their head or food on their table.

I know that everyone is getting requests for donations from organizations that are trying to help the most vulnerable. Please Give. If you are fortunate enough to still have income coming in right how, are able to pay your bills and buy food, please give what you can, everywhere you can. And trust that I am walking the talk.

If you have ever come to tears or belly laughed during a performance, left an exhibition feeling moved and thoughtful, calmed your anxiety by reading a poem, now is the time to say thank you. Make your gift now to the Emergency Relief for Artists Fund.

— Tom Katzenmeyer, connect with Tom on LinkedIn.