TRENDS Diary: Funding For Artists, To Keep Us Connected

A map of where Creative Neighborhoods: COVID-19 Work Projects pieces will go. Visit https://bit.ly/2LLVnru for more details.

TRENDS Diary, a project of the Community Foundation of Boulder County, is a place for Boulder County residents of all ages to share personal experiences that relate to a pressing community need. The focus, for now, is on our shared need to connect and solve problems, despite the increased isolation we’re all experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Dear TRENDS Diary,

I was talking with Matt Chasansky, Manager of Boulder’s Office of Arts and Culture, about the dire financial challenges so many artists in Boulder are facing due to COVID-related cancellations of their work. Create Boulder, a nonprofit that formed a few years ago to serve as a strong, unified voice for the arts, planned to establish a small emergency relief fund.

During the Depression, the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) launched a program to put people back to work building infrastructure.

But the WPA also employed musicians, visual artists, writers, actors and directors to create new work, some of which endures to this day. Matt subsequently led the city’s effort to launch the Creative Neighborhoods: COVID-19 Work Projects program, inspired by the WPA, and invited Create Boulder to partner with the City to expand the program.

We jumped at the opportunity and raised additional funding to fully match the City’s $20,000 commitment. With our match, 66 Boulder artists received grants of $599, helping to ease some of their financial distress. These artists are creating new murals, film, dance, music and more.

There are two phases: during social isolation and post. There will be projects to connect people during isolation and projects to bring us together again. People will need to be drawn out. Artists are great communicators and can tell the stories in ways others can’t. They generate conversations, enlighten us, give us a place of comfort, build connections.

The project can be expanded if additional funds are donated. Create Boulder is still collecting those. The arts are going to be critical in Boulder’s recovery. I don’t think you can have a great city without having great art.

– Deborah Malden, Create Boulder board member and Arts Liaison & Advisor for the Boulder Chamber, as told to Shay Castle