Perseverance Theater's Devilfish, performed at the Performing Arts Center last fall.

As we continue to self quarantine and socially distance ourselves over the next few weeks and, many of us will turn to our favorite TV shows, movies, music and podcasts to enjoy our favorite arts.

While streaming services will see a huge uptick in viewership, live performances all around the city are being cancelled or postponed, and these closures are threatening to truly decimate our local arts communities.

The arts are everywhere, and the industry that supports your favorite streaming services is built on a foundation of community arts organizations. Here in southcentral Alaska, organizations like the Anchorage Concert Association, the Anchorage Symphony, Alaska Junior Theater work tirelessly to bring great performances to us each and every week.

In an effort to adjust to the revolving door of national recommendations and local mandates, businesses are sending employees home to work remotely or even asking employees to take voluntary leaves of absences to mitigate the financial losses of the economy coming to a grinding halt. Unfortunately, for many of us who work in the arts, working remotely just isn’t an option. Cancelled performances and social distancing means we can’t teach, can’t rehearse and can’t perform.

This is our livelihood. Promoters and production companies are seeing hundreds of thousands of dollars and freelance performers are facing weeks, potentially months, without work.

Here’s my ask: please donate to your favorite local arts organizations. If you have tickets to a show that’s been cancelled, donate them rather than ask for a refund. Think about the shows you go to, get online and donate. Many of our local arts organizations that bring us such joy at the holidays, present monthly concerts or bring incredible artists up to Anchorage operate on an extremely tight, fraying shoestring of a budget and are depending on your support to stay afloat.

Here in Anchorage, we have a number of incredible arts organizations that are fully committed to bringing world class artists and performances to our communities. They do this because they understand that incredible value of the arts — that the arts aren’t a luxury, but a necessity.

Pitching in ten bucks or donating your tickets doesn’t mean you’re losing your money; it means you’re investing in the long term sustainability of these organizations that bring so much joy and entertainment to our lives.

The state of public arts funding is a whole other conversation, but, unfortunately, a few cancelled shows can mean the difference between success and financial ruin. The PAC downtown has already been forced to cancel all remaining shows in March, and I suspect these cancellations will continue well into April, at the least. Your support will ensure this pandemic isn’t deadly for local arts.

If you wouldn’t think twice about re-upping your Netflix subscription each month, please consider offering your financial support to one of these many great local companies. We’re all scared right now. We’re all unsure of what the future looks like. There’s one thing I know for sure. When everything returns to normal, we’ll need the arts. We’ll need them to heal, to play, and to bring us all together again.

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