Something like 30% of the population here in the United States is out of work. Those that still have jobs are mostly in the service industries – jobs that pay poorly, offer little or nothing by way of benefits, and force those so employed to risk their lives on a daily – perhaps even hourly – basis. It’s mind-boggling that we are so cruel to clap for their forced sacrifice, and yet do nothing to actually help make their lives better.
One segment of our population that’s been hit very hard is artists of all kinds. Working artists no longer have much by way of paying audiences to support them. Even those few who make a living at their art formerly are finding it next to impossible to do so now. Some survive using the Patreon model, where people who enjoy the artists’ work pay a stipend each month to help support them. Patreon is a website developed specifically to facilitate this, and I encourage readers to browse through Patreon to see just what kind of amazing things people are producing to make us think, lift our spirits, and show us beauty in unexpected places. You can support artists on Patron for as little as $1 per month. I have to believe that when household budget cutting happens, things like Patreon support are among the first to go. Here’s a link to the Patreon site: https://www.patreon.com/
An artist I’ve discovered recently, thanks to a friend’s recommendation, is Canadian artist Audra Balion. Audra is multi-talented and works in a wide variety of media; I fell in love with a charming piece of art she created and put on (among other things) greeting cards. The theme is steampunk, and two cartoon cats are tea dueling (Tea dueling involves dunking a cookie/biscuit in tea, and holding the biscuit upright. Whoever’s cookie lasts longest before crumbling is the winner.) Audra has a Patreon, takes commissions, and has a wide assortment of works to purchase and enjoy. My experience of ordering from her was pleasant at worst: she delivered the cards I ordered quickly and efficiently, and even pointed out an error in her favor, compensating me for the extra money I accidentally paid. Audra’s website can be found here: https://audra.balion.ca/
Mentioned previously in a post on this blog is Sean Michael Dargan. Sean is a versatile musician in the Madison, Wisconsin-area who is hosting live streaming music events on Facebook every Friday afternoon. I urge you to check out his fun, light-hearted style. Here’s the link to his Facebok page, where you can watch last Friday’s concert, and keep an eye open for this week’s: https://www.facebook.com/seanmichaeldargan
Because I am a writer myself, I know an awful lot of people who write and edit for a living. A great many of those folks lost their day jobs because of the pandemic. Many of them survive using Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/), offering stories and blog posts on a regular basis, as well as early access to works-in-progress, in exchange for patronage. Of course, buying their books is always helpful, especially if that sale is run through your favorite local bookstore, thus directly supporting two businesses with one purchase. Besides, reading books is a great way to pass the time during a pandemic, right?
Finally, where would we be without comedy? Steve Hofstetter, who’s tours have brought him through my home town on numerous occasions, (we’ve seen him perform live at least twice) is doing great work to support himself AND other comedians by hosting virtual comedy tours at Nowhere Comedy Club and The Social Distancing Social Club. Laugh From Home is free to watch: for the Nowhere Comedy Club tickets can be purchased online, and for those out of work (and for first responders of all types), a fund has been established to provide discounted or free tickets. Check it out:
Laugh From Home: https://www.comedyjuice.com/laughfromhome/index.cfm Nowhere Comedy Club: https://nowherecomedyclub.com/
Steve’s got his own YouTube channel where he posts video clips of his stand up – which often include him HILARIOUSLY roasting hecklers: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHVd0LM1g9S0cttDHkidEHA
The arts are an important way to make it through difficult times. The arts make life worth living – they make us smile, laugh, cry, think, and appreciate what life has to offer. I hope you will do what you can to help out an artist – either one I’ve listed here or one you know – so they can keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.