The Arts Alliance is aiming to raise $100,000 for Creative Washtenaw Aid 2020, a COVID-19 relief fund for the county's artists, creatives, and creative businesses.
Deb Polich, The Arts Alliance president, says financial assistance is critical because artists, creatives, and cultural organizations have even less of a safety net than many others. Not all of them are eligible for unemployment benefits.
"There are so many suffering: arts organizations, nonprofits, independent artists, musicians, performers, dancers, and graphic designers, for example," Polich says. "The number of people that we know that are affected are just a flea on the back of a big old animal."
She adds that artists were hit by the adverse effects of the COVID-19 crisis almost immediately, as they were among the "first responders" when conversations about social distancing started.
"Many voluntarily closed their venues well before Governor Whitmer's order, because keeping people safe and flattening the curve was more important to them," Polich says.
All donations are tax-deductible and people are encouraged to give any amount they can. Contributors can also choose the specific artist or organization they would like to assist.
"Maybe we can help someone pay half of their rent, or buy their week's groceries and stay afloat somehow," Polich says. "These people give all the time and they need our support."
Polich also stresses that supporting the county's artists and creative businesses today is crucial for a better future beyond the COVID-19 crisis. She notes that the sector is a formidable economic driver for local tourism, is instrumental in education, and improves everyone's quality of life.
"At some point we will come out of our houses. And even right now in our homes we are listening to music, reading books, watching films, or virtually walking through museums," she says. "As humans, we crave creative product whether we are conscious of it or not."
For more Concentrate coverage of our community's response to the COVID-19 crisis, click here.
Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.