THE REBOUND: New coronavirus relief initiative helps the arts stay afloat

Posted at 12:08 PM, Apr 24, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX18) — While not deemed essential services by the government, the arts are a crucial part of any community in making it vibrant and rich in culture, and Lexington is no exception. Due to the coronavirus, theaters, orchestras and the arts of all kinds have had to cancel performances and close down their venues, meaning they are unable to make any money, but now a little relief is on the way.

The performing arts are all about gathering and sharing a communal experience, so where do the arts go when gathering is no longer allowed?

"Well, it changed everything, " said Allison Kaiser, executive director of the Lexington Philharmonic, of the shutdowns caused by the coronavirus.

Kaiser said at any time they employ 60 to 170 musicians a year, all of whom are now essentially out of a job.

"Everything that we do involves doing something live in front of some sort of audience, and so that ranges everywhere from our large main stage concerts to our educational programs, " Kaiser said.

Right now, the musicians have taken their talents online by making free videos as part of their #LexPhilLivingRoom series. The Philharmonic has applied for the Paycheck Protection Program and is relying on the generosity of their patrons, but like many, they are still hurting.

Kaiser said, "We are looking at all resources right now to try and find ways to keep our musicians employed."

The Blue Grass Community Foundation is aware of the struggle the arts are facing. In fact, BGCF along with LexArts just announced the newly formed Arts Resilience Initiative. It is one of several coronavirus outreaches being awarded part of a $100,000 grant from the foundation to aid in relief efforts.

"A situation like this demands that when we have the resources that can be shared with others to help them to improve the quality of life, that that's what the community foundation is all about, " said Lisa Adkins, president and CEO of the Blue Grass Community Foundation.

What this means is individual artists and organizations, like the Lexington Philharmonic, can apply for one-time grants to help them sustain through this difficult time. Individual artists can receive a maximum of $500, while organizations can receive a maximum of $2000.

"It is absolutely critical as much on a morale boosting level as on a financial level, " Kaiser said.

Kaiser said it is a gratifying feeling to know they are being thought of in this time when the arts have all but disappeared, so hopefully when people can gather together once again, they will be able to pick up right where they left off.

"We just want to make sure that people are being sustained and maintained during this time so that when we are at the end of this that the arts will be alive and vibrant and it be all we need it to be in our community, " said Ame Sweetall of LexArts.

Leading the list of Arts Resilience Initiative donors is Knight Foundation Donor Advised Charitable Fund at Blue Grass Community Foundation, which is issuing a $50,000 matching opportunity to challenge the community to rise to the occasion and support local arts.

Additional initial gifts include $15,000 from the Jenna and Matthew Mitchell Family Foundation, $11,111.11 from The Groovalution, $10,000 from the EE Murry Family Foundation, $10,000 from The Fund for Greater Lexington, a community endowment at Blue Grass Community Foundation, and a donation from Stockyard, LLC.

For more information on the Arts Resilience Initiative including how to

Other coronavirus relief efforts being granted money from the Fund For A Greater Lexington include:

-$50,000 to the Coronavirus Response Fund, an emergency needs fund in partnership with the United Way of the Bluegrass
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-$10,000 to Nourish Lexington Fund, a fund that is utilizing the skills of hospitality workers unemployed due to COVID-19
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