• Mike S.

The State of Art & Culture in a Pandemic

News to no one should be the amount of suffering that the Covid-19 pandemic is causing individuals and families. The Johns Hopkins dashboard, as of this writing, cites 929,000+ deaths worldwide and 194,000+ in the U.S. alone. Loss of business activity due to the virus has resulted in bankruptcies and high unemployment rates, with too many people worrying how to feed their families or keeping a roof over their heads. Fires, hurricanes, war, how to educate our youth, and political divisiveness all add to our problems. The pandemic hasn't left one sector of life unaffected.

Which, if you didn't realize it, is true of the arts and humanities. Often thought of as a frill, the arts are often overlooked in times like these. They are, however, vital to the life of the nation and to the State of Wisconsin. A mid-August report by the Wisconsin Policy Forum ("Arts and Culture in a Pandemic: An Existential Threat") highlights just how important the arts and humanities are to the quality of life in Wisconsin.

It should surprise no one that the state's cultural organizations and individual artists have been among the most affected. Ticket sales are virtually non-existent, museum traffic down by necessity, and venues for plays, movies, and other performing arts (including bars) diminished or shuttered. The ranks of the unemployed are also filled with people who once worked in the arts (in 2017, 96,000+ full-time and part-time did). Arts and cultural activities added $10.1 billion of value to the Wisconsin economy in 2017, according to the report. The pandemic threatens all of that.

This post is not a plea for your money. Rather, it is to point out that, if you have money to spare, we simply ask you not to forget the arts and the value they add to the quality of life of this state. No matter what cultural organization you support, if you can, give.

(Photo courtesy of Wix media)

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