State legislators gathered with ArtsWestchester Friday to celebrate a $1 million award that will be regranted to arts groups in Westchester and Rockland counties through a new ReStart The Arts Grant Program to be administered by ArtsWestchester to help organizations recover from the COVID-19 pandemic recession.
It was the first day the gallery in White Plains was open to the public in more than a year. The launch features the new art exhibition “Together apART: Creating During COVID,” showcasing the artwork of more than 220 Hudson Valley artists.
“Like us, many of our affiliate arts and cultural venues have been shuttered for more than a year operating virtually but with closed doors. They now require an enormous—and costly—effort to reopen safely,” said ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam. “I’m profoundly grateful to our state legislators for understanding the urgent need for these recovery grants. The new funds will help arts and cultural groups restart their public programs and make a comeback in the Hudson Valley in 2021.”
A 2020 survey completed by ArtsWestchester found that 87% of responding arts groups reported that they were not faring well through the pandemic and two-thirds of local artists were unemployed. The 2020 national creative worker unemployment rate was estimated at 63%.
“The Westchester arts community has been hard hit by social distancing and lockdown measures at the height of the pandemic. This is why I, along with my Senate colleagues, fought for $1 million in funding for ArtsWestchester to ensure our local arts community emerges from this pandemic with the resources needed to come back stronger than ever. Today marks the start of that comeback,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
The “ReStart the Arts” initiative in Westchester and Rockland counties is an effort led by the Affiliate Committee of ArtsWestchester, a group of arts leaders who serve as ArtsWestchester board members.
“Right now there is a critical need for assistance, specifically for Westchester and Rockland Counties arts communities, which represent one of the State’s most artistically vibrant areas outside of New York City. Westchester and Rockland’s economy cannot recover unless we restart the arts,” said Dave Steck, founder and executive director of Yonkers-based YoFi Fest.