Art brings us together. It’s still true. Even when we can’t be together physically, art is still there to teach us about our ever-changing world, inspire us to new ideas, and make our temporary isolation feel a little less alone. For all the ways art helps us, right now art needs our help too. Here are a few ways to support the arts in BC when you can’t be there to witness.
The smaller the arts organization, the more they depend on ticket sales, grants and donations to do their work. For the unknown but certainly foreseeable future, arts organizations will see a sharp drop in funds coming in. If you love your local museum, gallery or theater, and you have the means to do so, a donation now will help them weather the storm and come back just as strong when they can open their doors again.
A searchable list of charitable arts organizations in BC can be found on the Donate to Art Charities page on Canada Helps. If you don’t see your favorites here, a simple phone call to a front desk or box office will not only be welcome, but helpful in directing your gift.
If you had plans to attend a show that’s been cancelled, consider what you would have spent on dinner, drinks, transportation. If you have the means at this time, perhaps that amount can still go to do some good.
Already purchased a ticket? Instead of getting your money back, you could donate the cost of that ticket back to the company, often as a tax deductible donation.
Shop & Support
Does your local gallery have an online store? Get a little Christmas shopping done way early, and you’ll be supporting their bottom line at the same time. Or, take a page out of the restaurant industry’s playbook and see if local museums or theatres offer gift certificates. Buy them now as gifts for later, or use them yourself when shows come back. Like a little investment in hope.
Social distancing doesn’t have to feel so distant, and keeping the arts alive is great way to stay connected. Here’s where social media can be used for good. Follow your favorite artists and arts organizations on all their channels. Give them some “likes” to let them know you’re still out there. Better yet, start or contribute to some positive conversations around their posts to keep a dialogue of the arts going.
It also serves to stay on top of their news, and the new ways that many organizations are exploring to reach their audiences virtually. Like the way Touchstone Theater in Vancouver recently offered the final performance of Inheritance: a pick-the-path experience as a live stream on March 14. Access was free but donations were accepted in lieu of performance. Theatre Replacement’s MINE will stream live from the Cultch on Facebook Live, March 19 – 21.
Many local musicians are turning to Facebook Live or YouTube to stream concerts they’ve had to cancel. Check out Dan Mangan’s #Quarantunes, for example.
Art galleries and museums too are offering patrons the chance to wander their collections from the comfort of their own living room. The Vancouver Art Gallery and the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC are just two of the province’s reps on the Google Arts & Culture website, featuring online exhibitions by Douglas Coupland and photographer Fred Schiffer, respectively. You can find them both here.
Finally, if you could use a little fresh air, and you’re feeling up to it, now could be the time for a self-guided tour of the public art in your community. Just remember to keep a respectful distance to anyone you might meet along the way. Online and interactive maps are available to steer you right:
In North Vancouver: https://www.northshoreculturecompass.ca/pages/public-art
In New Westminster: https://www.newwestcity.ca/public-art#art-installations-map
Art has always had the power to unite us, lift us up, and shine a little light when we need it. Until we can come together again to sit and talk before a painting, or stand and applaud a performance, stay healthy, be kind to one another, and keep the light on.
Written for West Coast Curated by Wade Kinley
Main image credit: The Ice Storm: Douglas Coupland