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The Arts and COVID-19

By Wayne Martin, Executive Director, North Carolina Arts Council

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging all North Carolinians to alter their lifestyles and radically change habits in order to arrest the spread of the virus. The arts and culture sectors in our state are heavily impacted as more and more artists, organizations, events, venues, and destinations are facing postponements or cancellations and must address significant revenue shortfalls as audiences diminish.

As you know, Governor Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency this week. Guidelines in the declaration address the need for enhanced hygiene and cleaning protocols as well as social distancing and remote communications. Accordingly, the North Carolina Arts Council is postponing or cancelling all non-essential meetings, conferences, and gatherings across the state, including the Arts Council’s board of directors meeting that was scheduled for March 19. Because our agency’s offices are in Wake County, which has been impacted by the virus, Arts Council staff are also cancelling all non-essential travel. We expect these changes to remain in place for a number of weeks.

Emergency guidelines advocated telework in order to minimize social contact and many of our staff are working from home. That said, we are making every effort to answer calls and correspondence promptly. In addition, we plan to hold grant panels in May as scheduled, though we may opt to conduct online meetings rather than gather panelists in person.

If you are a current grantee and your organization or funded project is adversely affected by the virus, please contact Arts Council staff so that we can discuss potential options that may allow you to continue to utilize the grant.

Our national service organization, Americans for the Arts, is distributing a survey to assess real and potential economic impacts to arts organizations. I urge you to participate so that the effect of the virus on North Carolina’s arts infrastructure can be documented.

Advocacy to include the arts in emergency relief funding that might be allocated at the federal or state levels is a high priority. I am in close contact with Arts North Carolina and know that both of our organizations will share more information about recovery efforts in the coming weeks and months.

I also invite you to write me directly at wayne.martin@ncdcr.gov if you have ideas for other ways that our arts network in North Carolina can address the needs of our colleagues or help our citizens and their communities.

Thank you for all the ways that you make North Carolina a better place. Together we will get through this challenging period.

**Editor’s note: This release was sent by the NCAC on Friday, March 13.**