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COVID-19 Effects On Arts Community ‘Unprecedented’

The Signature Image for this year's Boneyard Arts Festial is Nexus by Gregor Stallmeyer

The arts community has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 outbreak. Illinois Newsroom’s Brian Moline recently spoke with Kelly White, Executive Director of 40 North, the Champaign County Arts Council.

Brian Moline discusses COVID-19’s impact on the Champaign County arts community with Kelly White.

White described just how the arts community in Champaign County has been affected by the outbreak.

“This is unprecedented, obviously, we’ve never seen anything like this,” White said. “All the performers, whether they had a tour planned, or different performances set up, obviously all those got canceled, and then we’ve had to postpone the Boneyard (Arts Festival), which is one of the biggest art celebrations of the year.”

White said although the physical festival has been postponed until later this year, likely September, there will be a virtual Boneyard Arts Festival beginning on the originally scheduled date, April 2. She said she hopes many of the same artists will be able to take part in the virtual festival.

“Like they would be featured at Boneyard,” White said. “Maybe Friday night you were going to go see that band, hopefully we can have a band perform and stream…so kind of keeping that same mission of Boneyard, but having people enjoy it safely from their homes.”

She said there are ways the community can help artists who are unable to work during the coronavirus pandemic. She encourages anyone who is able to contribute to artists financially, but also to help in other ways.

“If you own a piece of art you love, share that. If you see an artist sharing their work…share that,” White said. “Just because we’re sheltering in place doesn’t mean that people still aren’t out there creating and making amazing work. Sometimes it’s a wonderful distraction, you know, we’re getting overwhelmed with news every single day. Sometimes you need a chance to have a little bit of a breath, a little bit of a change.”

She also said she’s been impressed by the creativity that local artists continue to show through avenues like streaming performances and new collaborations.

Picture of Brian Moline

Brian Moline

Brian Moline is the Managing Editor of Illinois Newsroom and host of Morning Edition for Illinois Public Media/WILL. He's been with WILL since 2015, after a long stint at WDWS-AM in Champaign where he covered both news and sports for more than a decade. If you have story or interview ideas, you can reach Brian at bmoline@illinois.edu.

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