Businesses deemed non-essential during the coronavirus crisis are to remain closed until further notice, with no specific date to reopen in sight. People who depend on those businesses for their entertainment — or even their livelihood — are stuck waiting for the situation to change.
For musicians, that means there won't be any scheduled performances in the near future, at least not in public spaces.
"If musicians aren't performing at shows, if they're not being being booked, then they're not making money," Lisa DeSmidt, program director at the Arts Council for Long Beach, said. "The goal for us right now is to get artists paid first and foremost, and to get visibility for these artists who are not only losing out on paid gigs and time, but losing out on the ability to express their creativity."
The Arts Council is helping area artists, poets and musicians showcase their work on Instagram and Facebook for online audiences to watch and listen. The effort is called "Keep Arts Working," and the Arts Council is using its registry of artists to "illuminate the vital work being created amid the COVID-19 pandemic response, alleviate anxiety from our minds and bodies through the arts and begin to recuperate the creative economy," a release said.
Shy But Flyy, a Long Beach blues and soul singer, was approached by the Arts Council to organize live spoken word performances on Instagram (@shybutflyy) every week. The artists get paid for their appearances, creating a space for musical programming without the need to leave home.
"It's a great opportunity to be so involved in a community that's invested in their artists," Shy But Flyy said. "I hope things get back to normal soon, but I'm happy to still be working."
The Art Council's registry of artists features a list of performing, visual, literary and traditional artists. People can browse through the list of artists by going to artslb.org/artist-registry and viewing individual profiles.
"Not only are artists creating art, they are creating work," Judy Estrada, organizer at the Arts Council, said. "What we want is to see more people using our artist registry as a resource to source talent.
"What this whole epidemic is showing us is we need the arts more than ever. Every infographic, every video and every visual we see about COVID-19 is created by artists. Their work is not only important for healing and entertainment, but also communication."
While some are eagerly looking for ways to get back to creating, others are taking a short break from music to stay at home, rest and stay away from people.
"As a musician, I spend a lot of time at home as it is since this (music) is my full time job," Nani Serna, member of the alternative band Bundy, said. "I'm still broke as hell, but I'm having a good time."
Serna said that he is working it out with his bandmates to figure out a way play together remotely, but added that his priority is to keep practicing social distancing with the hope that life will get back to normal sooner than later.
"Right now, we can't get together and make any music. I think we should play it safe and not hang out," he said. "If that means we aren't making music for a while, then that's what we have to deal with until we can again."
But there are ways to keep supporting artists, even from the couch.
"Everyone's kind of broke right now, and musicians are used to being broke, so every time someone buys a shirt or a CD, it's super helpful," Serna said. "But I think the best thing anyone can do right now is listen to the music online and share it."
For more information about the Arts Council for Long Beach's "Keep Arts Working" campaign, go to artslb.org/keepartsworking.
Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.