Earlier this summer, a high school senior interviewed me about the pandemic. One of their questions asked if the coronavirus proves governments should fund STEM/scientific research over the arts, particularly in schools. Here’s how I answered:
This pandemic is proving the vital need for STEM research and scientific funding. These areas are crucial investments at both the federal and state governments. Though, during this time of crisis, individuals turned to the arts for comfort, entertainment, and information. Pageviews at The Writing Cooperative are up over the last few weeks as more people look for creative outlets. There shouldn’t be a sole focus on science or art funding; both are crucial to the wellbeing of society.Justin Cox
People are turning to the arts more than ever. Last weekend, Disney blew us all away with Hamilton. Watching, I wondered how many people were experiencing the theater for the first time, seeing the magic created as a group of talented artists come together to create something they’re passionate about.
As wonderful as Hamilton was, the flip side of the coin is heartbreaking. Flip through the Hamilton Playbill and read the hundreds of names involved in the production. Unfortunately, almost everyone involved — from the actors to the musicians to the lighting engineers to the theater ushers — are out of work for at least the remainder of the year. While keeping Broadway dark is the right thing to do for public safety, it still hurts.
Broadway being closed shines a high-profile light on the need to support artists. Not just in schools, but with our own paychecks. Theaters are closed. Galleries are shuttered. Artists are struggling, yet they still create. Every Zoom concert, Instagram art show, and essay produced is a drive to put something good into the world for others to enjoy, process, and explore.
People can directly support my writing by purchasing a Substack subscription and, every time someone does, I’m grateful. I try to use my writing income to support other artists whose work I enjoy. Today, I encourage you to do the same. Buy a book. Purchase art. Subscribe to a newsletter. Supporting artists helps them continue to create and brings a bit of joy into your life. It’s a win-win!
If you’re looking for artists to support, here are a few worth your consideration:
- Ernio Hernandez has a unique style that I appreciate. Plus, his pun-based humor is fantastic and landed his work in The New Yorker. Purchase a personal portrait and give your social media profiles some style.
- DarkwaterDyes sells unique, upcycled tie-dye clothing created by my cousin, Amanda. From shirts to onesies to masks, Amanda will tie-dye it with unique colors and patterns. Send her a message and she’ll create you a custom piece!
- Oliver “Shiny” Blakemore is someone I’ve known through writing on Medium. Earlier this year he published Ragged Museum, a collection of short stories where, as he puts it, the fantasy went funny. His book is worth the read.
- Leighann Lord is a very funny lady who participated in the second Writing Cooperative Stand-up event. She appears in events all the time and has a few books worth checking out.
- Chaz Hutton explores life through cartoons and graphs. His Instagram-friendly work is available in print for your walls or on clothing for your body. Plus, Chaz just might draw you, too.
This is obviously not an exhaustive list of artists worth supporting. There are many, many more on my list and I hope you have a list of your own.
The bottom line is simple: you can be a patron of the arts without buying a wing in your local theater. If you enjoy something, consider supporting the person who created it.