Even though we’re all hunkering down because the coronavirus outbreak is going to be a doozy for the foreseeable future, there is some much-needed good news for artists. Across the country, both on a local and national level, artist relief programs are bubbling to the surface, and just in the nick of time.
New York Foundation of the Arts was one of the first to announce it is working to help artists with grants and other emergency funding. The San Francisco Arts Commission wasn’t far behind, providing grant and loan resources for local artists who are struggling. And Arts for Illinois has just announced an incredible collaboration between the state of Illinois, the city of Chicago and private philanthropists who are coming together to support its creative professionals. And that is just the start — foundations and trusts all over the country have all set up temporary relief funds too.
In other good news, the Instagram #artistsupportpledge movement was started mid-March by U.K.-based artist William Burrows. It is a direct-to-consumer and artist-to-artist platform where every time an artist earns £1,000 (about $1,200) they take 20 percent of the sale and put it toward buying another artist’s work. There are no art police making sure this happens, but instead, it is a system built on trust and generosity. Artists helping artists when they need it the most.
In California, Tucker Nichols has started a multimedia art project called Flowers For Sick People and is sending free flower drawings to people in need of some morale boosting. If you know of someone who is sick, caring for someone who is sick or otherwise in need of a serious pick-me-up right now, you can request a drawing and he will send it to them by mail. Pretty great, right?
Feeling all warm and fuzzy and ready to indulge your creative side? Here are a few of our favorite free artsy things floating around on the internet.
Free Coloring Books and Pages
The adult coloring trend, touted for its stress and anxiety-reducing effects, is having a resurgence with a plethora of uber-cool sites offering free downloadable coloring books as well as individual pages. MoMA is offering a highbrow version of New York artist Louise Lawler’s 2017 retrospective of “Why Pictures Now?” that art buffs will love. Colored pencil company Faber-Castell is getting in on the fun too offering beginner, intermediate and advanced options as well as tips and techniques. Who knew coloring could be so fancy?
Free Vintage Posters
Lots of cultural institutions are now offering free learning materials for people (more on that below) and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design recently announced it too is hopping on the free arts education bandwagon by offering more than 200 downloadable posters. Art of the Poster 1880-1918 is a curated collection of works from artists like Alphonse Mucha, Jules Chéret and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, known for their contributions during the Belle Époque period, which is synonymous with iconic art and is often called the Golden Age of design. Francophiles and art buffs, this one is for you.
Free Virtual Museum Tours
Yes, all travel plans have been furloughed, but that just means it is time for some arm-chair travel. Most of your favorite American museums are offering virtual tours, but why not check out art in some of the cities you have been dying to visit? Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum has an impressive collection with pieces from masters like Rembrandt, Dalí and Monet. The National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City offers virtual visitors a deep dive into Mexico’s Mayan culture. Seoul’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and Berlin’s Pergamon Museum are also great choices.
Free Nightly Opera Concerts
Twenty-four hours after announcing it will cancel all concerts due to the coronavirus, the Metropolitan Opera announced it will stream encore presentations of its award-winning Live in HD series for the duration of the iconic institution’s closure. Concerts will air at 7:30pm EST and will be available on the Met’s homepage for 23 hours. You can also view all the performances on all Met Opera on Demand apps and its streaming service. Check their online schedule for upcoming performances and mark your calendar!
Lyric Opera of Chicago is also bringing top-notch opera content to your living room with interviews, trivia, commentaries on the Met Opera livestreams, and clips from past performances. Follow their Lyric Lately blog for regularly updated content.