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Fund established to keep central New York arts organizations, artists afloat during the pandemic


Artists and non-profit arts organizations in central New York are projected to lose $15 million by the end of September because of the coronavirus epidemic. CNY Arts Executive Director Stephen Butler says that figure is the result of a month-long survey of more than 265 artists and organizations.

"With very little opportunity to make money, our industry is severely threatened -- with either permanent closures or having to shut up shop in the foreseeable future -- until they can figure out a way to restart without having very much cash on hand,” Butler said.

That’s why CNY Arts, along with the Central New York Community Foundation, have created a $1 million COVID relief fund for the arts, cultural and heritage industry across seven counties in central New York.

Individual artists, and arts and heritage organizations are being hit from all sides during the pandemic: there are no ticket sales, there’s been a loss of government aid and fundraising is down. The aim of the fund is to keep these organizations and artists afloat.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Analytics the arts industry is a $114 billion industry in New York state.

“You really want to make sure that these organizations and individual artists are protected and stay here and reopen and are working here for the long-term future,” Butler said.

Butler says this fund will also help organizations that are reopening, like museums, that have significant costs due to safety protocols.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.