With museums and art galleries closed, performances canceled or postponed, many wonder how the arts would survive. Art thrives in an environment of togetherness.

During an ordinary day, we would take a leisure stroll through a gallery; watch a performance, experiencing arts and all the emotions it evokes collectively; we fill up concert venues, museums, and theaters; we gather to learn and create from each other and improve our community. These recent pandemic changes have changed things significantly, including the loss of revenue for the programs and their employees. COVID-19 has resulted in lots of lost income and layoffs.

There is no definite answer as to how the pandemic will impact the art long-term but one thing is certain, things are forever changed. One Cincinnati arts leader had some encouraging things for the artists and other creatives in the Cincinnati area.

Statistics from the Americans for the Arts states that 60 percent of income for nonprofit art organizations come from the sales of tickets, sponsorships, and fundraising. It states that nonprofit arts have a $166 billion economic effect in the U.S and it supports over 4.5 million jobs. Many local artist depend on the sales of their artwork from local galleries, festivals, and fairs just to sustain themselves. Most of them don’t have a fallback plan. Many live paychecks to paycheck or from gig to gig.

Just like other industries, arts organizations have also asked for federal aid as they deal with their crises. The New York Times has indicated that the $2.2 trillion federal COVID-19 relief bill included $75 million for the National Endowment for the arts and $75 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Both of them would offer money to institutions throughout America.

The Cincinnati Art Museum’s head of design and installation says that working artists need more help than they could have imagined. Not just the individual artists but the entire artist community. Many artist are getting hit from all sides, as they work in the gig economy as designers, sculptors, painters, bartenders, and barista’s just to support their creative endeavors. Since many of them these gigs are no longer available, they are trying to find ways to make a living and stay afloat.

Cincinnati artists now have to depend on the community to support them during this critical time so that they can also receive the necessities that are important to everyday life. Creative work would cease to exist without these basic needs.

The Contemporary Arts Center’s director of communications believes that arts are a call to action, as artists strive to make a connection through their talents. Now is the time for others to connect with them by supporting them in their efforts to continue to thrive creatively. They don’t have control over their current circumstances yet they still manage to connect with people emotionally. Those who enjoy the work they do should recognize this and support them through any means necessary.

On June 11th, Cincinnati Bell was proud to support the current movement that is taking the world by storm, the Black Lives Matter Movement. In solidarity, they paused work for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. This was the amount of time that the Minnesota police officer kneeled on the neck of George Floyd. Leigh Fox, the current President & CEO of Cincinnati Bell asked 4,400 Cincinnati Bell employees throughout North America to participate. The call was received with welcome arms and employees of every ethnicity were eager to do so.

Today, there are roughly 660 Cincinnati Bell employees who are members of CWA. They are the installers who install the services that consumers and businesses in northern Kentucky, Dayton, and Cincinnati rely on every day. They make up the backend support of the most essential services that the company offers.

Union employees, come in contact with customers daily and consistently show others what it means to treat others with respect. The company’s CWA employees show their concern for the city by participating in the work pause and have the support of the whole company supporting them.

Even though some may not be in a position to physically go and participate in the protest, this at least allows them to show their support. Chief Culture Officer of Cincinnati Bell said that the company is now focused on keeping a culture of equality and respect in the workplace in communities.

There is no better time to open up communication among now, considering the current climate. This should be dialogue that will give us the chance to recognize the communities of color’s denial of justice and equality. The union is hoping that our taking a stand by participating in the solidarity moment that we’ll be making a significant contribution. We hope that these actions will also have a positive impact while we move forward.

Many Cincinnati businesses are trying to figure out how they can lend their voices in the cause and even the smallest contribution is appreciated. The worse thing that anyone can do is nothing. So even if it seems like something very insignificant, in the larger scheme of things, it is helping them move toward a country of equality and inclusion.

Some voices have been silenced for far too long. However, through other’s voices, those voices that have been silenced can now be heard. Some companies are using this moment as a marketing opportunity. However, the companies and organizations that are sincere in their efforts will show this in their actions now in the future. They must put in the work and those of color must be the ones who are benefiting from these efforts because if they do then we all benefit. Injustices run deep and they have put a stain on us as a country. However, with a show of solidarity and support, we can become a pillar of hope for other oppressed countries.