Recently, a renowned musician was asked by an organization in London to lead a virtual masterclass from his home in New York. The class, via Zoom, was free to the students, but the artist, who wasn’t being paid, was told he could ask for donations during the session.
Only two of the 15 people who enrolled gave a donation. He spent a lifetime mastering his instrument, hours preparing for the class and a few hours with the class. All he came out of it with was two $10 donations. I wouldn’t be surprised if those same people tip their Uber Eats delivery people more than that.
The advocacy group Americans for the Arts has spent much of the past month collecting data on how artists like he are faring; in a new study of more than 10,000 working artists and creatives, it finds that nearly two-thirds of artists report having become unemployed since the start of the pandemic. It seems that just about everyone who works in the arts, from actors to ushers, is finding themselves in a financial lurch.
Let’s not forget that today, you can find just about anything you’re interested in online and for free—concerts or cooking classes, self-help lectures or do-it-yourself repair lessons. I take advantage of them, too. On behalf of artists and organizations producing these concerts and classes, please, if you possibly can, make a donation.
The people who are making this online content would much rather perform for us, rather than beg from us. In this difficult time, when tours and concerts and art shows and book talks are all being canceled, how on earth can we continue to enjoy the arts if we don’t support our artists? It’s wonderful that so many stars and celebrities are using their talents hoping you’ll make a donation to a favorite, important and worthwhile charity. But the vast majority of artists don’t have that luxury. They’re facing just too many bills and too few gigs.
This month, JArts has launched an exciting new JLive series featuring amazing local artists sharing the story of how their art has evolved and their Jewish identity influences it. Unlike that organization in London, JArts is providing our special guests with a small honorarium in appreciation of their work and the difficulties many of them are now facing. But we still ask—and they still need—the additional donation you might make.
If you are inspired by their performances or just want to show your support for artists who are sharing their Jewish journey, donate to them and give to the sponsoring organizations too.
Find upcoming JArts events here.
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