Nonprofit leaders explain that arts and culture nonprofits are in need of support during the pandemic
YoloArts awarded a total of $12,630 on March 17 to five different Yolo County arts organizations: Mariachi Puente, Bike City Theatre Company, United in Unity, Yolo Community Band and Winters Participation Gallery for the Arts.
Executive director of YoloArts Alison Flory explained via email how YoloArts decided to opt in to receive CARES Act funding from the California Arts Council.
YoloArts received the funding “for the purpose of regranting to arts and cultural organizations in Yolo County serving communities of color disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” Flory said. “As an organization it was vital to participate in the program to ensure that these government funds were made available to organizations within Yolo County.”
Flory described how YoloArts decided which local arts organizations would receive funding.
“YoloArts created a granting program, which included a set of guidelines and an application process,” Flory said. “Of the ten applications received and reviewed by the committee, the five organizations funded most closely aligned with the guidelines.”
Chair of Winters Participation Gallery Valerie Whitworth explained how the YoloArts grant greatly benefited their operations.
“It’s a huge expense each year that we have to mount before we can even start doing art activities,” Whitworth said. “This year, YoloArts has paid for half of that, which allows us to complete our mission, which is to take up to 20 middle and high school students and teach them how to make a mural and how to research history that they can put into the story of the mural.”
Founder of United in Unity Sandy Holman described the national impact that her nonprofit has had.
“We’re small, but we have national impact in our efforts in trying to promote systemic change, inclusion, cultural competency, equity, diversity, literacy, equality and education for all,” Holman said. “It’s very tough, critical work.”
Flory explained how the COVID-19 pandemic caused nonprofits to transition to a virtual format over the past year.
“As an industry of creatives we are known for our ability to problem solve, adjust and change to ensure that the arts remain a part of the communities we serve,” Flory said. “However, these adjustments and changes are not without challenges. With the loss of funding streams [nonprofits] have had to cut programming [and] lay off staff just in order to stay afloat.”
Whitworth discussed the importance of arts and cultural nonprofits on mental health during the pandemic.
“Mental health has been a big issue during the pandemic,” Whitworth said. “I think that those folks who have found groups online to do art with have found that they survive it much better than isolation.”
Holman noted that she considers nonprofit workers to be frontline warriors.
“I see nonprofits as your frontline warriors because they often do tremendous, impactful, very difficult work with little support or resources,” Holman said.
Flory described the importance of arts and cultural nonprofits.
“The arts have the power to spark dialogue, build empathy and encourage shared experiences, which builds a strong and resilient community,” Flory said. “Without the opportunity to experience live theatre, a musical performance, dance to a good rhythm, create in a local studio or walk through a gallery as a community we struggle to process our circumstances and share our individual stories.”
Holman explained that nonprofit organizations are important because they can help to meet community needs.
“Nonprofits are just essential,” Holman said. “They often fill in the gaps where for-profits don’t. They also usually are very community-focused—at least the smaller nonprofits are—and very, very dedicated.”
Whitworth described the importance of art during the pandemic.
“The arts allow people to delve into something that takes them out of the present moment into a very creative space, and I think it’s important, especially when things are so chaotic and so unsure and so ambiguous, that people have a creative outlet,” Whitworth said.
Holman left a final note regarding the ability of community members to make a difference.
“I want the community to realize how powerful they are, what potential they have to be changemakers for the good of their community, our country and the world,” Holman said. “I want them to know that we all have a responsibility to use our gifts and our talents to make a difference and to make our living a better place for all.”Written by: Jelena Lapuz — firstname.lastname@example.org