By Maquette Reeverts | Alberta Art Works
“Portland has built its ‘brand’ on the backs of our arts community, a multi-million-dollar industry that provides thousands of jobs, is a major tourism attraction and drives business to hotels, restaurants and retailers across the city,” said Chloe Eudaly, Portland arts commissioner.
According to America for the Arts in 2015, the nonprofit arts and culture industry nationally reported $166.3 billion of economic activity, supported 4.6 million jobs and generated $27.5 billion in revenue.
When COVID-19 attacked, the arts were hit hard. Performers and venues depend on large groups to earn money. Most freelance artists have been left out of relief projects, and galleries can no longer invite the public to opening night events.
Needless to say, artists are creative and have found ways to reach their audiences. Converge 45 commissioned 12 artists, created posters of their work and have posted those on the streets of Portland. Posters are available for $25 and the proceeds go to the Nat Turner Biopic Artist Relief Program.
Alberta Street galleries are selling art pieces online via websites and social media, and they offer pick-up and drop-off services. Openings have given way to monthlong art shows that allow for staggered viewing. Galleries report sales haven’t waned too much, maybe because people became bored of tired walls while in lockdown.
Last Thursday, now in its 23rd year, went virtual this summer. Alberta Main Street and Alberta Art Works (AAW) used Portland Bureau of Transportation’s summer budget for the event to pay artists to create short promotional videos and classes that were aired on social media.
AAW hired artists of color to perform at various Alberta Street galleries and livestreamed to Facebook and YouTube. Visit LastThursdayPortland. org for free movement and art classes, to discover local artists and to find the street concerts by artists like Arietta Ward, Onry, Rejoice: Diaspora Dance Theater, and Ekone.
CNA respects the views and beliefs of all Concordians, and their cultures and faiths. The views expressed by this writer do not necessarily reflect the views of CNA.
Michel Reeverts, aka Maquette, holds a master of arts degree in art education, serves Alberta Art Works as director and Alberta Street Gallery as a board member. She is also a practicing artist. Contact her at Maquette@AlbertaArtWorks.org.