More than $14 billion has been lost this year in the arts and culture sector due to COVID-19 according to estimates by the group Americans for the Arts. A national event this weekend aims to encourage shoppers to support artists in Indiana and around the country.
Many in-person shows where artists feature and sell their work were canceled in response to the pandemic. This weekend’s event, Artists Sunday, aims to help recover some of the money lost. It will include thousands of creative people showcasing their work.
This will be the first Artists Sunday campaign. It was founded by professional photographer Christopher Sherman, who has been working on the event for the past year.
Sherman said participating artists and communities received a social media tool kit to help spread the word.
“The idea is to to counterbalance what you're seeing with Black Friday and the big box stores, that are you know, shouting, deals! Doorbusters! Buy from us!" Sherman said. "To unite essentially artists nationwide, under the same brand and unify the messaging to say buy from an artist – buy from your local artist.”
Constance Collins is a hand weaver in Indianapolis who makes scarves and other wearables as well as wall artwork. Collins has traditionally relied on craft shows to help sell her work.
“It has been hard, not only for the loss of income, but just I get a lot of energy. When I do the shows, people come in, you get a lot of positive affirmation, you sell product," Collins said. "But even to the people that can't afford my product, it's just great talking to them and seeing their enthusiasm for what I do. And now you're just working in a vacuum. And I think that, it's definitely hard for me. And I think it is hard for a lot of other artists as well.”
Colorado State University arts management assistant professor Micheal Seman said a recent Brookings Institution study he co-authored showed the creative industry in the U.S. lost more than 2.5 million jobs between April and July of this year.
“Tourism was crushed during the pandemic. There are a lot of the fine and performing arts that are directly intertwined with tourism. And with both of those being hit as hard as they are it's again, a dire situation,” Seman said. “So I'm looking forward to Artists Sunday, because I think it's a great way that, you know, in lieu of at the time, we're in a situation where there's not a federal stimulus package coming within a reasonable timeframe.”
For those who have saved money from not eating out or canceled travel plans, Collins said she hopes they considered buying some art.
“So there is I think, within a certain demographic, which is my demographic, people that have money, and now it would be a good time to maybe say, 'you know this is a good time to buy some art,'" she said.
While Artists Sunday may be only one day, Collins encourages people to continue shopping and buying from local artists year round.