It’s been a rough year for artists, to say the least. With shows, exhibitions, and festivals suddenly erased from the calendar, Covid-19 has made it nearly impossible for artists to maintain a steady income. In Houston alone, creative industries lost 42,587 jobs and $1.6 billion in sales from April to July, the Brookings Institution revealed in a report on the coronavirus’s economic impact. Workers in these industries are also expected to lose about $1.3 billion in monthly earnings during that same time.
Simply put, Bayou City creatives are hurting. But you don’t have to sit by and watch them push all that pain into their art. Here are five ways you can support the Houston arts community in its time of need.
Got a little bit of cash to spare now that you’re not paying for Ubers every weekend? Give some of that extra dough to the Houston Music Foundation Crisis Fund, which is helping professional musicians in Harris County get back on their feet while they wait for concerts to be safe again. You can also help performing artists through the Society for the Performing Arts’ $1.5 million relief-and-response fund, Arts Forward, or support artists more generally by contributing to the Greater Houston Area Arts Relief Fund, which is offering grants to creatives who have lost their income, housing, or health care during the pandemic.
It’s felt like everyone and their mothers have been on social media for ages, but that actually has been a good thing during this pandemic. While you can’t go to the traditional concert or chat with a favorite artist at their show’s opening, you can still stay connected with creatives through livestreams, like the CAMH’s weekly Instagram Takeover. There’re also tons of virtual programming available.
Add some new art to your walls by purchasing artists' work through online programs, like nonprofit Artists for Artists, and local galleries and shops. Not only are we encouraging artists to keep creating, but buying local also validates the shops choosing to sell one-of-a-kind art from smaller artists, who often are less recognized for their work and lack the same kinds of resources and following that big-name creatives have. Plus, after being stuck inside our homes for so long, we could use something new to stare at. There’s even some Covid-inspired art prints—just in case you want to forever commemorate these special times.
Plenty of museums and galleries have reopened their doors, so go check out all their amazing exhibits. Not sure where to start? This month alone, there’s the MFAH’s Arts of Islamic Lands: Selections from The al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait—one of the largest collections of Islamic art in the world—as well as Virginia Jaramillo: The Curvilinear Paintings, 1969-74, the first solo exhibition of the Latina abstract artist, at The Menil Collection (and don’t forget about the newly reopened Rothko Chapel next door). Plus, Art League Houston’s displaying works by its 2020 Texas Artist of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Just remember, most places have new Covid-safety guidelines in place, so know them before you go.
You’ve heard it before, but sharing really is caring. With everything happening online right now, a virtual presence is more important than ever for generating revenue. We have the power to help expand a local artist’s reach and platform through social media. So, post your favorite mural on Instagram, share an artist’s post about a new painting, and retweet the heck out of a local musician’s new EP. Every post adds up; just make sure you give those hard-working artists credit, or better yet, link to their accounts.