Last week, Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture announced that 17 Jamaica Plain organizations were among the 146 local arts and cultural organizations to receive grant money as part of the Arts and Culture COVID-19 Fund.
The Jamaica Plain nonprofits will share in $815,000 in grant money from the City of Boston’s CARES Act funding. The CARES Act funding was established earlier this summer to support small and mid-sized arts and culture nonprofits in adapting their programs, spaces, and operating models as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In Jamaica Plain Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston; America Scores New England; Trustees of Eliot School; Sheffield Chamber Players; JazzBoston; Non-Event; Boston Opera Collaborative; A Far Cry, Inc.; Girls Rock Campaign Boston; BalletRox; Jamaica Plain Arts Council; Balagan Films, Inc.; The Footlight Club; Boston Cyberarts; Boston Theater Company, Inc.; Rehearsal for Life; and City Ballet of Boston all received the grant.
“Supporting the organizations that bring transformative arts programming to every neighborhood in our city is imperative during this unprecedented time,” said Mayor Walsh. “These organizations have put a tremendous amount of effort into making sure Bostonians can still participate in the arts and express themselves creatively, and it’s important that we do what we can to ensure they remain a part of Boston’s arts community in the future.”
Like many community programs, the COVID-19 pandemic has halted many in-person programs and forced organizations like the Jamaica Plain Arts Council, the Footlight Club and the other neighborhood organizations listed to adapt and change how they operate. Some have been forced to close and ride out the pandemic but need extra financial support until they reopen.
For example the Jamaica Plain Arts Council was forced to cancel their signature event, the Open Studios 2020, due to public safety concerns during this continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will continue to meet virtually and discuss possibilities to safely share the creativity, vibrancy and artistry in our community,” they said in a statement. “We celebrate the strength and scope of this creative energy. It is what inspires and fuels us to make Jamaica Plain Open Studios the annual celebration of art for the past 27 years.”
The Jamaica Plain Arts Council hopes to hold the cancelled event next year on September 25th-26th, 2021.
Over at the Footlight Club, America’s oldest community theater and has produced performances every year since 1877, the Board of Directors decided to suspend all activity in the building until further notice.
“We are committed to the health and safety of our audiences, artists, volunteers, rental clients, and neighbors and feel that taking this proactive measure is the most responsible thing to do based on recommendations from the CDC and government,” said said President Amanda Bedford back in mid-June. “We are not accepting any rentals at least through the end of the calendar year due to upcoming construction of our accessibility project. We hope that you stay well; take care of yourself and your loved ones, and we will see you at Eliot Hall again soon.”
The City’s Chief of Arts and Culture Kara Elliott-Ortega said COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the arts and culture sector, particularly performing arts organizations. As organizations and cultural facilities begin reopening, the Arts and Culture COVID-19 Fund aims to mitigate costs for finding new safe spaces for performance and rehearsal, adapting existing facilities to comply with public health standards, developing new capacities in streaming and virtual engagement, addressing issues of equitable access on digital programs, retraining staff, and other costs associated with physically distanced program delivery.
“Providing ongoing support to Boston’s arts organizations is critical during this time,” said Elliott-Ortega. “We hope this will encourage Boston residents to do what they can to make sure these organizations are able to continue providing valuable programming to our communities in the future.”