Editor’s note: Atlanta’s artists face uncertainty in this age of coronavirus. To help us all connect, we offer this new series: “In Our Own Words.” In each post, an artist will share their experience, strength and hope as they navigate a new normal.
We heard rumblings about it in February and we made plans early. We started buying more hand sanitizer, then we told staff to stay home if they felt sick. On Thursday, March 12, we had to announce the closure of our building. When you see big money-making endeavors like sports shut down, you know the arts have no chance. Our students were supposed to perform the national anthem April 6 at the NCAA men’s basketball game live on TV. We lost that opportunity. It was devastating.
Our work is always done in person, so this is very challenging. We’re going online with about 75 students. Every June, we have our summer program for three weeks. We’re not sure we will be able to do it this year. Three of our students were accepted to Youth Orchestra Los Angeles’ National Festival (a Los Angeles Philharmonic program). It’s usually in July. They haven’t told us if it will take place. Nine of our high school students have had their college admissions interrupted.
We heard from two of our largest funders almost immediately. The city of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs is going to fast-track payments that it owes to arts organizations, which is a fabulous move, very supportive. We are reaching out to other funders to see if we can take funds that are earmarked for our regular programs and use them for online programs. We are going to be imaginative and patient. Our faculty are hourly employees so they are not working now. That’s been very difficult, but we are able to keep our 11 full-time staff. I am into music nonstop and I continue to listen to music while I work in my home office. I teach the bassoon, and now I have more time to research contemporary bassoon music. That’s always refreshing.
In times like these, when we are separated by necessity, ArtsATL is needed more than ever. Please consider a donation so we can continue to highlight Atlanta’s creative community during this unprecedented period.