Arts Beat




By Mark G. Auerbach

Creative Economy Resources for those dealing with COVID19

If you’re a performer, an artist, a filmmaker, a gallery, an arts organization of a member of what’s frequently referred to as “the creative economy”, Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd lyric comes to mind. “Times is hard, sir…times is hard”. In the last couple of weeks, most of the region’s arts organizations and creative industry businesses have shut down. Lost revenues from performances, scheduled galas and fundraisers have crippled organizations, many of whom have laid off staff, Hartford Stage has reduced its workforce by 70%. The spin-off impact is horrifying, as restaurants, bars, shops, and parking, all who depend upon people activity from theatres visiting their sites, see empty streets.

If you’re part of the creative economy, especially if you’ve been laid off, file for unemployment benefits immediately. Then, secure your health benefits.

The UFCW Local 328 offers tips at: How to File For Unemployment: http://ufcw328.org/filing-for-unemployment-due-to-covid-19-a-step-by-step-resource-for-workers-in-massachusetts-rhode-island-connecticut-links-included/?fbclid=IwAR2CV9c0HRVYXB8yguyrditFNMNaJER0OHOq3rV_iTGuYu6AOztw7cAu5kAI

For Massachusetts residents in need of healthcare: Mass Health: https://www.mass.gov/topics/masshealth

If you’re a union member, check your union’s website for details which may be applicable.

Actor’s Equity Association. https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Equity-Advises-Members-on-Filing-for-Unemployment-20200318?fbclid=IwAR3QcX-CDOOhqerkskG7uEveJVaaaWtxo0KGs4lXUg19lUFfJkoV_g4e2Tg

American Federation of Musicians. https://www.afm.org/covid-19/

American Guild of Musical Artists Relief Fund:. https://www.musicalartists.org/membership/agma-relief-fund/?fbclid=IwAR2lnPGiuHrDaS-HNHuFDiXb2NEOoOW4–P2PLjZ7rV0f8x99JraMbF-wFM

Resources for Individual Artists include:

Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) https://massculturalcouncil.org/covid-19-resources

Assets for artists relief fund information https://www.assetsforartists.org/blog/coronavirus

COVID-19 and Freelance Artists https://covid19freelanceartistresource.wordpress.com/

Massachusetts Grants Watch: https://massachusetts.grantwatch.com/grant/188509/grants-to-massachusetts-artists-to-mitigate-financial-losses-incurred-due-to-the-coronavirus-pandemic.html

Massachusetts Production Coalition (for those associated with the film and video industry) . https://massprodcoalition.org/news/covid19-resources?fbclid=IwAR15WuKaEE1QLf-Ez42MFVJE1MAKAzddiNTs6Xk09ngLpSril6QnXn0pzGs

Arts Organizations large and small can reach out to the following for assistance:

Arts Extension Service at UMASS: https://www.umass.edu/aes/

Chronicle of Philanthropy. Resources to Help Non-Profits https://www.philanthropy.com/article/Responding-to-the-Coronavirus/248231/#.XnGnZ47DYcs.linkedin

Connecticut Small Business Developmewnt Center (you or your business must be in CT). https://ctsbdc.com/

MA Capital Growth Corporation. https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org/what-we-offer/emergency-loan-funds/covid-19-loan-fund

Massachusetts Small Business Development Center (you or your business must be in MA). https://www.msbdc.org/

Rhode Island State Council oin The Arts. https://risca.online/coronavirus-and-the-arts-resources-and-updates/

Thanks to Burns Maxey (formerly at New England Public Radio) at the UMASS Arts Extension Service and Todd Trebour at the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (and formerly at Chester Theatre and UMASS Arts Extension Service) for their assistance.

Coronavirus Notes:

Cancelled: The UMass Fine Arts Center, Jorgensen Performing Arts Center at UCONN/Storrs, Connecticut Repertory Theatre, and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra have cancelled the remainder of their 2019-20 seasons. The Berkshire International Film Festival has been postponed to the Fall. For details, contact the box-offices at the organizations.

Postponed. Westfield Concerts has rescheduled the April 24 Roomful of Blues concert to September 18. Otherwise, the rest of their current season is cancelled. Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center announced the postponement of the Madeleine Peyroux Trio concert on April 17 to June 5.

Looking Ahead as a Cockeyed Optimist

Goodspeed Musicals, the two time Tony Award winning regional theatre opens its 2020 season with the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, South Pacific (Opening date was to be April 17, but the show’s opening will be delayed to an uncertain date). TheaterWorks Artistic Director, Rob Ruggiero, who has staged Rags, Oliver, Showboat, La Cage Aux Folles, Fiddler on the Roof, and other musicals for Goodspeed directs.

South Pacific, inspired by James A. Michener’s Tales of The South Pacific, features music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and book by Hammerstein and Joshua Logan, tells the story of a nurse, Nellie Forbush, who falls for a French plantation owner, as a Lieutenant falls for a native girl; all set on a lush South Pacific island during World War II. The score features gems like “Some Enchanted Evening,” “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair,” “Bali Ha’i” and a song about racism and prejudice, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught” that could be an anthem for our times.

Erin Mackey and Branch Fields star, along with Loretta Ables Sayer as “Bloody Mary.” She won as Theater World Award for her performance in the same role for the acclaimed Lincoln Center revival. Chad Jennings, who just starred in TheaterWorks’ Every Brilliant Thing, plays Luther Billis, a role he played in the same production as Sayre.

For details: www.goodspeed.org.


Mark G. Auerbach studied theatre at American University and the Yale School of Drama. He’s worked for arts organizations and reported on theatre for newspapers and radio. Mark produces and hosts ArtsBeat Radio for 89.5fm/WSKB, and is a contributor to Pioneer Valley Radio. 


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