The arts have been in crisis since the COVID-19 shutdowns began. Museums, galleries, performance spaces, theaters, concert halls, bars, clubs and pretty much everywhere else that creatives share their work has been closed. And even as restrictions on other industries are loosened across Colorado, the arts sector remains largely on pause.
This creates more than just economic problems. Cultural events are where people go to recharge, to reflect critically about the world and to connect with others. And for many artists and performers, sharing their work is more than just a business — it’s how they find meaning in life.
Organizers with the Los Angeles-based creative event company RAW wanted to give artists from around the globe a chance to safely share their work while bringing much-needed attention to the struggles of the creative sector.
"At RAW, we believe that nothing takes the place of seeing art, or experiencing performances, fashion or music live in person," the organization explains. "The arts community is deeply wounded by this massive crisis; postponed showcases, performances, display opportunities, and tours have compounded with the loss of creative jobs. According to a recent survey, 64 percent of artists are unemployed as a result of this crisis and 95 percent have lost revenue as a result of the global pandemic. Independent artists need financial support."
To address all this, the RAW organizers created the National Arts Drive, which was originally scheduled for 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 6. But that date has since been moved back to Saturday, June 20, to make way for a larger conversation about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Here's RAW's statement on that:
RAW Artists Community,
On behalf of our organization, I want to take this opportunity to communicate our stance of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The inequality that so many of our black artists, employees, attendees, and communities face daily is the exact opposite ethos of inclusivity that we have worked hard to promote for over a decade. The many tragic acts of injustice against Black Americans like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery belong to a list of far too many.
It's profound moments like these, where those with a platform, the financial means, strength to protest, or an ear to listen, should do all they can to be a part of positive and lasting change.
Here are a few action items RAW Artists has taken as an organization:
1. We have donated to Campaign Zero to aid in the fight against police brutality.
2. We have included a shortlist of organizations below you can consider for financial contributions.
3. The National Arts Drive will be postponed to Saturday, June 20, 2020, to yield to the bigger purpose and conversation our nation (and the world) needs to be having at this time.
There is power in numbers, in votes, in signatures, and in dollars donated. We encourage you to use the resources available to you for good, for change, and ultimately creativity and justice for all.
Founder & CEO
RAW: natural born artists
The discussion over the next two weeks is certain to influence the content of the rescheduled National Arts Drive Day. On June 20, creatives of all stripes will perform from balconies, stoops, sidewalks, driveways and yards, and audiences will be tasked with driving around their cities to enjoy the work. Denver and Boulder will both be participating, as will other cities across the United States, Canada, Venezuela and Mexico.
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“We're calling on the local community to take a drive through city blocks and suburban streets using our interactive map that allows for direct donations to artists from the safety of their car via a touch-free transfer,” explains RAW’s website.
The organization is recruiting not just an audience, but artists and drivers to participate in the event. “There is no charge for artists to participate or to be listed on the National Arts Drive map,” RAW notes. “Though we are encouraging drivers to support artists as they approach installations and performances, there is no cost to the community drivers to engage with the experience.”
To sign up as an artist or driver for the National Arts Drive, go to the National Arts Drive website.Then be ready to get in gear on June 20.
Update: This story was updated on June 3 to reflect that the National Arts Drive has been rescheduled in response to the Black Lives Matter movement protests.