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It’s Time to Restart the Arts!

The arts are a vital source of economic revenue. However, in a recent study by ArtsWestchester, 87% of surveyed arts groups reported that they were not faring well during the pandemic. Meanwhile, two-thirds of local artists are unemployed. ReStart the Arts is an initiative put forth by ArtsWestchester’s Affiliate Committee that calls on New York State officials to allocate one million dollars to the arts.  If successful, funds would be distributed by ArtsWestchester to Westchester and Rockland County cultural organizations through a call for proposals. Residents can show support of the #RestartTheArts efforts on social media or contacting their elected officials​. ArtsNews asked local arts groups how they would use those funds to restart the arts.

Laura DeBuys

Our earned revenue…was completely cut of at the beginning of the closure. It’s time to get audiences safely back to our theater again. I’d like to restart the arts by upgrading the HVAC system in our historic theater.
– Laura DeBuys, President and Executive Director of the Picture House Regional Film Center

Restarting the arts would enable us to transform an outdoor lot into a storytelling garden for our young people to learn and grow together again in a post-pandemic creative, cultural and educational context.
– Brooklyn Demme, Interim Executive Director, Youth Theatre Interactions

We’ve been unable to produce anything live on stage. In order to restart the arts, we would like to present a virtual audio-visual, illustrated, bilingual children’s book with music and sound effects.
– Holly Villaire, Producing Artistic Director, Hamm & Clov Stage Company

We’ve had to cancel some concerts and presented many others virtually. This is a fine alternative, but not financially sustainable long-term. I want to restart the arts by creating a safe environment to return to live concerts so we can perform for our local community who need this uplifting music now more than ever.
– Erica Kelly, Executive Director, New Choral Society of Central Westchester

Adam Cohen

We’re planning to reopen our theater space in October. That’s going to mean upgrading the ventilation of our HVAC system, adding sanitizing protocols and finding the upfront money for the productions after the year we’ve had.
– Adam Cohen, Artistic Director, Arc Stages

The pandemic forced us to cut short our programs and events and adapt to the new reality. We provide a major source of income for teaching artists, who in turn suffered a major impact when our programming ceased. I want to restart the arts by kicking our outreach initiatives back into high gear.
– Adam Levi, Executive Director, Rye Arts Center

We’ve had to furlough and dismiss a large portion of our team, leaving us with a handful of very dedicated employees trying to do the jobs of many more…I can help restart the arts by providing our community with live and virtual programming that is challenging, hopeful, inspiring and thought-provoking.
– Michael Hoagland, Executive Director, Bedford Playhouse 

Jean Newton

It’s been a very tough year. If we had support from ReStart the Arts, we would love to provide a series of public community concerts in lots of different locations. These would be performed by our faculty members and our students.
– Jean Newton, Executive Director, Music Conservatory of Westchester

We are seeing “For Lease” signs all over our
beautiful county of Rockland. With ReStart the Arts, we would use the funds for marketing so that people will come to the beautiful town of Nyack and the county of Rockland, and they will spend money with our small businesses.

  Craig Smith, Phoenix Theater Ensemble (Nyack)

Sarah Bracey White

When isolation forced our writing program for kids onto the virtual platform, it drew kids from far outside of Greenburgh. I want to restart the arts with in-person workshops, and virtual ones for creative young writers whose parents, for various reasons, can’t get them to in-person workshops.
– Sarah Bracey White, Executive Director, Greenburgh Arts Committee

This pandemic has presented us with so many challenges. We need to restart the arts. That way, filmgoers, students, teachers, filmmakers, people of all ages and backgrounds can have access to our vibrant programs regardless of their ability to pay. 

– Daniela Velez, Manager of Institutional Giving, Jacob Burns Film Center

When I was a boy, I was very taken by the subject of magic. It’s astonishing when something disappears before your very eyes. Of course, in order for the magic trick to work, it has to reappear. Right now, all of our theaters, arts organizations, museums and dance companies have disappeared. In order to make them reappear, you are charged with giving a million dollars to revive the arts. I beg you to do this.
– Bram Lewis, Artistic Director, Schoolhouse Theater

A version of this article first appeared in the April issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.

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