Toolkit Developed by Artists Keeps Creatives Working During COVID-19

Posted by Ms. Jen Krava, Nov 20, 2020 0 comments

“This toolkit was born out of a desire to fight despair,” shares Candida Gonzalez, artist and consultant to Forecast, a nonprofit for artists working in the public space. “I watched in disbelief as many friends all over the country lost their projects and gigs. Rather than pausing to think on alternatives, many funders’ knee-jerk response to the pandemic was to pull funding and cancel projects.”

This despair birthed an idea from the team at Forecast for a toolkit created and launched in April 2020 with artists, arts organizations, presenting organizations, and others collaborating with artists in mind. “I looked around and saw artists and organizations innovating and creating alternatives to in-person events. I hoped that if we highlighted these projects and put them out on a national stage, more creatives and funders would see that the shows could go on, just in a different way,” Gonzalez says. “We are artists, we are creative thinkers, we are innovators!”

“Innovation in the Time of COVID” is designed to be an ever-evolving platform that contains strategies for adapting in-person arts-based activities during the COVID-19 pandemic for everyone to share, use, and contribute to. “We couldn’t just sit here and do nothing while we watched our friends and colleagues lose work overnight,” says Theresa Sweetland, Executive Director of Forecast. “With 93% of artists losing income and 63% fully unemployed during this pandemic, it felt dire.”

Artwork by Marlena Myles

The toolkit currently includes guidance around:

  • Continuing a project or event that is a collaboration between you and an artist
  • Engaging your community in a time of physical distancing
  • Innovating and moving forward rather than freezing a project
  • Keeping artists working during this time

“We clearly are not getting to the end of this pandemic; in fact, we are entering a dark winter, and as we return to more restrictions and physical distance we have to do what we do best: remain creative and imagine new ways of supporting and saving lives while also employing working artists!” says Sweetland.  

Hawona Sullivan Janzen, who collaborated on the project and hosted a webinar presenting case studies with Gonzalez, spoke to the impetus for her involvement: “I realized how vulnerable artists are as I saw the flood of cancellations and the posts from artists wondering how they were going to pay rent and put food on the table. Creating the toolkit is a way to help others who are trying to figure out how to create and share art even during the worst of times.”

Candida Gonzalez, Theresa Sweetland, and Hawona Sullivan Janzen

Forecast continues to develop the toolkit based on open-source input from artists and arts organizations and examples of how they are adapting in-person arts-based projects. Updated versions are automatically emailed to those who downloaded the toolkit. All are invited to access the most recent version of the toolkit, learn more about the project, and submit your own examples on the Forecast website.

Please login to post comments.