This is an incredibly unsettling and difficult time for all of us. As our city, state, and nation shut down public events and gatherings to limit the spread of COVID19, two things are immediately clear to us: we are all yearn for - and at times, take for granted - the social and emotional connection that the arts bring to us. And we are all going to need a strong artistic community to help us heal, recover, and make sense of this time.
As Milwaukee's convener, connector, and amplifier of the arts and culture community, we believe that our highest and best use during this time is to rally public support and awareness of the present challenges our city's artists and creatives are facing, as well as mobilize for our sector to benefit from public sector solutions.
As such, Imagine MKE is focusing on a three part response:
- MKE Artist Relief Fund. These are small grants of up to $500 made to to artists affected by disruptions in service industry work and canceled events and gigs. We had a goal of raising and distributing $50,000 by April 10th and based on the applications we received, we extended the goal to $195,000 by April 30th.
- Story Collection. We have begun collecting stories from individual artists, creatives, and arts organizations being affected by COVID-19. We aim to help media tell the story of our city's artists and creatives being affected by this pandemic in the context of the broader systemic challenges that both arts and culture organizations and individual artists face.
- Public Policy response. We are working with our state and federal advocacy partners and elected officials to shape the public policy response so that arts and culture organizations and individual artists and creatives are taken care of in the relief and recovery bill and other state and local aid. If you are a Milwaukee arts and culture organization, please fill out this survey to help us better understand the scale of our sector's impact and public policy asks. You can add your voice to our legislative call to action here. We have also launched a standing series of COVID19 Task Force meetings for arts leaders throughout the county to plan, coordinate, and organize the sector's response.
In uncertain times throughout history, we have always looked to the arts and culture community for solace and sense-making. This time will be no different and we are heartened by your support and look forward to working with you through this time.