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How to support arts organizations while practicing social distancing

Temporary closures are forcing businesses to look to community support.

How to support arts organizations while practicing social distancing
[Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images]

As the coronavirus continues to spread, small businesses and arts organizations are forced to confront the reality: social distancing demands temporary closures. These unprecedented times have led all sorts of institutions to cancel events, shift to online programming, and appeal to the community for support to help subsidize lost earnings. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will not only be closed through July, but is expected to lose $100 million too. Though many of us aren’t able to show up in person, we can continue to purchase merchandise and donate money to help keep employees afloat.

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[Screenshot: Moma Design Store]

Buy merch from your local art museum

MoMA’s Design Store sells tons of things that might prove helpful during a societal shutdown. From a Mini Table Crumb Vacuum to a DIY Bluetooth Speaker & FM Radio, there’s no shortage of artfully designed objects. Plus, for all the plant parents who get joy from infusing nature into the home, the store sells trendy Self-Watering Pots, too. As large and small museums alike are closing across the country, consider checking out their online stores for home goods and fun ways to pass the time—like with this “elevated” card game from Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art store.

[Screenshot: WCCW]

Become a member

Nonprofit arts organizations like LA’s Women’s Center for Creative Work offer various membership levels to people interested in supporting the low-cost arts programming, coworking space, and female and nonbinary artists in residence. Memberships start at $5 a month and go up to $125 a month; each tier grants greater access to WCCW’s different resources, from use of the printing equipment to free admission to all WCCW programs, as well as a 20% discount on all merchandise. Many small arts organizations around the U.S., especially ones focused on underrepresented communities, have similar recurring payment structures.

[Screenshot: Books Are Magic]

Make orders online

Brooklyn cult favorite Books Are Magic suggests continuing your normal literature shopping—just online. It’s closed its store to browsing, but is staying open so people can pick up digital orders or make special requests for staff to grab. Colleen Callery, who runs marketing and communications for the bookstore, also recommends an organization called BINC, which has an emergency fund to support booksellers and is matching donations during the pandemic. Quarantine is a perfect time to catch up on reading, and indie booksellers around the country are selling their wares online; many are also offering free shipping. Sites like Bookshop (which shares revenue with independent bookstores) is a good way to get your lit fix while supporting local shops.

[Screenshot: LA Art Book Fair]

Support independent artists

Annual festivals like Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair (which was scheduled for April 3-5) have been canceled. The book fair serves as a platform for many independent designers and artists who come together to celebrate each other’s individual practices. However, even though coronavirus has halted these plans, art lovers are still able to purchase the work of artists who were scheduled to participate. Printed Matter has posted the participating exhibitors online, making it easy to find artists’ and designers’ personal websites and support them directly.

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