Denver has launched a new program to help artists and other people in the creative community recoup money lost because of coronavirus closures.
Denver Arts & Venues, the agency tasked with overseeing the city’s public art program as well as numerous facilities, grants, events and more, announced on Thursday that it is making $130,000 available for artists who are impacted financially because of canceled work. The program is among several the agency announced on Thursday as part of its response to the coronavirus outbreak currently gripping the nation and the world.
Ginger White, executive director of Denver Arts & Venues, explains in a statement that her agency is developing programs to “engage the cultural community and share their artistry and creative output with our residents to inspire hope and resiliency.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is profoundly impacting Denver’s artistic, cultural and creative sectors,” White notes. “As a city agency, we have the opportunity to truly make an impact on our community.”
A news release says that the funding program, IMAGINE 2020 Artist Assistance Fund, will be distributed on a first come, first served basis; it will pay for travel expenses related to work created by an artist and loss of income for teaching artists, among other qualifiers. Funding will also be evaluated based on eligibility and level of need, and applications will be reviewed as they are received.
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on Colorado's art and music communities, as venues have closed and shows have been canceled as a way to prevent spread of the disease. The closures have also left many of the people who work at venues suddenly unemployed. Currently, the city has shuttered Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the Denver Performing Arts Complex, the Denver Coliseum, McNichols Civic Center Building and the Colorado Convention Center. Events are suspended at city-owned venues until at least May 11, according to the city's coronavirus response website.
Governor Jared Polis announced earlier this week the mandatory shutdown of bars, restaurants, casinos, gyms and theaters as a way to stem the spread of the virus, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Thursday evening extended the closures until April 30. The governor also closed down on-site learning at Colorado schools until at least April 17, leaving most school-aged children stuck at home. Denver Public Schools Independently announced on March 12 that it was shutting down its facilities.
Denver Arts & Venues has also launched a cultural resource page that includes virtual art tours and at-home activities for kids as a way to keep people connected to the city’s arts and culture while people are social distancing. The page also features numerous local, state and national resources for artists, including financial help, crisis services and other assistance.
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The agency has collected surplus inventory from its Youth One Book, One Denver programs to distribute at Green Valley Ranch, Montbello, Swansea, Harvey Park and Eisenhower recreation centers to families who visit the centers for meal pick-ups.
Denver Arts & Venues is currently working with Denver Channel 8 to develop live and streaming content, including virtual tours of the city's public art collection and exhibitions.
"As they say, it takes a village," White says. "We're coming together to rally around and giving back to those in our community that make our city so culturally vibrant in the first place."