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Restart the Arts

by admin

Although the pandemic is far from over, the combination of a successful vaccine roll-out and signs of spring have conspired to turn our thoughts to the future and to recovery, especially economic recovery. 

I share the view that the key to restarting the Westchester economy is getting consumers out and about again safely — and that the arts in Westchester are a strong engine for that recovery. 

But the arts need some help to move things along. CARES Act funding has helped sustain organizations over the long closures required by the pandemic. The upcoming Shuttered Venues Operators Grant (SVOG) holds additional promise for some organizations — but reconnecting with audiences hungry to experience the arts in person requires a different kind of assistance. Funding is required to reinvent curricula or reconfigure programming, to support improvements that increase safety, to reach out to audiences, and to support the artists themselves.

ArtsWestchester has put together an initiative — ReStart the Arts — that advocates for $1 million to help ReStart the Arts in Westchester. (Full disclosure, ReStart the Arts in Westchester and Rockland Counties is an effort led by the Affiliate Committee of ArtsWestchester of which I am a member.)

Additionally, our state legislators have taken up the charge. At a press conference last Monday, State Senators Shelly Maher and Peter Harckham, and Assemblymembers Tom Abinanti, Chris Burdick, and Amy Paulin, were on hand to voice their support. 

This video by Peter Katz for Westfair, captures their remarks: 

“The arts in Westchester pre-COVID produced a $172 million economic impact, in which 5,200 jobs were actualized,” according to ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam, citing the 2017 Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 report by Americans for the Arts. “Far from being a handout, the arts in Westchester return $25 million in taxes to state and local governments annually.”

In light of the challenging recovery in front of us, I hope you will see Restart the Arts for what it is — an efficient and cost-effective jumpstart for the Westchester economy.  To help in the effort to ReStart the Arts, visit https://artswestchester.org/speak-up-for-arts/  and add your voice!