| Times-Reporter correspondent
Shut downs and pivoting measures to navigate through the pandemic have taken a toll, making a financial impact on the arts, culture and creative sector. Stages at performing arts venues went dark; art vendor events were postponed or canceled for the season; and tours and performances by musicians went silent. The pandemic affected the industry in numerous ways across the country — even at the local level in Tuscarawas County.
A survey conducted by Tuscarawas Arts Partnership (TAP) was sent out to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the arts, culture and creative communities in Tuscarawas County. The financial loss for the community in the county has reached $1.2 million between the months of March and August 2020 — and it continues to grow each month without many changes. COVID-19’s impact has affected local arts nonprofit organizations, performing arts venues, creative businesses, individual artists and creatives, and more.
“The DeWine Administration’s reopening guidance for performing arts might allow some small organizations to utilize larger theaters in a limited capacity, but it won’t solve the economic crisis,“ said Angela Meleca, Executive Director, Ohio Citizens for the Arts. ”To prevent institutions around Ohio from permanent closure, we look forward to working with our federal, state, and local partners in seeking financial relief.”
While the national and state level arts agencies continue to advocate for support for the industry, what can be done at the local level?
In 2019, Artober became an organized month that coincides with October’s National Arts and Humanities Month — from a national level to a local focus to build awareness and celebrate the arts, culture and creative sector in Tuscarawas County.
This year, TAP will not only continue Artober’s month-long celebration for the arts in Tuscarawas County, but a month-long fundraising campaign will be organized to raise money for an Arts and Culture Relief Fund. The fund will be used to award grant funding to Tuscarawas County’s arts, culture and creative community members, who have been impacted by COVID-19, with a goal to provide an additional financial source to offset the costs created by COVID-19 and related guidelines.
“The arts, culture and creative sector plays a vital role in our local communities which transcends across industries as it stimulates local economies, enhances cultural values and experiences, and creates opportunities for artistic experiences to flourish,” said Wilma K. Mullet, Executive Director of TAP. “The Arts and Culture Relief Fund is organized as an opportunity for the community to help support the arts during this pivotal time. Whether you are a local business or a person who loves the arts, your contribution and support matters as we strive to give back what was lost.”
Fundraising will begin Oct. 1 and conclude Oct. 31. Donations can be made through TAP’s website or through a mail-in donation form. For more information, visit https://www.tuscarawasartspartnership.org/arts-culture-relief-fund or tune in to TAP’s Facebook and Instagram pages for more information.