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Arts Month 2020 recap and highlights

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As we aim to continue providing you with the resources you need to do good in a virtual environment, we have adapted our programming. At the New York Learning Center, October has traditionally been a time for artists and arts and culture organizations to come to learn more about how to make change in their communities and fundraise for their projects. This year, we were thrilled that nearly 1,500 of you joined our virtual Arts Month programs. We were a little worried that everyone would be tired of spending so much time on Zoom hearing about the need to “pivot,” “transition,” and “weather the crisis.” 

Instead, through the series of programs that we hosted, many of you shared how thankful you were to learn that many people and organizations were feeling the same emotions as you, that some grantmakers were really listening to their grantees’ needs, and that there are resources out there for you. 

If you were not able to join us live, don’t worry—we have recordings that you can watch on your own time.  

Key takeaways 

Reimagining Theatre and Performance During and After the Pandemic 

  •  Arts organizations are concerned about what funding will look like a year from now. 
  • We can redefine where and how the show goes on. —Julie Crosby 
  • Public spaces operated by real estate management firms can provide an additional space for installations and performance art. 
  • There is more access to more artists in this moment, which is exposing audiences to art they may not otherwise have had an opportunity to experience. 

Find Funding, Resources, and Support for Individual Artists  

  • Organizations need to move beyond problem-solving for the present moment and start thinking about long-term strategy: How do we start highlighting and spotlighting resources and alternative pathways that individuals and organizations can activate in order to prepare themselves for a reemergence, a hiatus, a phoenix-rising-fromtheashes moment? Ruby Lopez Harper 
  • For artists who may not be able to create right now because of constraints brought on by the pandemic, this is a great time to work on their portfoliosfinding ways to create a clear story in their grant applications, and fully portray their artistic work in a virtual mode of representation. 
  • Artists should keep applying to the limited grants that are available, but they should also consider ways to get funding and support outside of the arts, diversifying funding resources as much as possible. Collaboration, partnerships, and artists’ networks will be key. 

How Grantmakers in the Arts are Addressing Current Challenges  

  •  Funders should take an artist-centered approach to grantmaking, centering artists’ voices, listening to their stated needs, and trusting their wisdom as members of the community being funded. Artists should have agency and be trusted to use their funding in the best manner for their own creative success. 
  • Funders should be as flexible as possible in the grantmaking process—any unnecessary barriers to equitable access (in the application, review, and approval process; grant reporting; etc.) should be removed not only during the pandemic but also going forward 
  • Funders should examine the types of relationships they have and want to have with grantees. If the relationship is purely transactional and there’s no deeper relationship there, grantees may be afraid to ask for what they really need or admit difficulties along the way. Ideally, funders should strive for connection with an understanding of the communities they serve. 

Although we hope to see the arts community in person at Candid soon, we are encouraged by the enthusiasm for and engagement with our virtual Arts Month programming this past October. We are currently planning more programs to support our local community here in the New York City metro area. Keep uptodate with our upcoming programming by subscribing to our email newsletter. We look forward to seeing you online! 


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