Letter: The arts are a critically important part of our lives

Christina Parrish Stone, Executive Director

St. Johns Cultural Council
Special to Historic City News

One month ago I could not have imagined that I would be writing to you from my home office, with my teenaged son completing school in the next room, and my college senior daughter writing a thesis alone in her Oregon apartment with no hope of the graduation celebration we’d all looked forward to for so long.  Life has changed dramatically for all of us. 

This, however, remains:  the arts are a critically important part of our lives; perhaps even more so today than before we were asked to shelter in place and remain socially distant.  Can you imagine the past few weeks without movies and music to occupy your time?  Unfortunately, the artists who provide this entertainment have experienced some of the most significant hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.  Event cancellations and venue closures leave many of them with no source of income.

The St. Johns Cultural Council is working to provide support to the artists in our community.  If you are a creative professional who is looking for support, please scroll through our newsletter for a variety of links to more information about programs that may be helpful. The Cultural Council will continue to look for resources that we can distribute directly and will keep you informed about those efforts through our weekly newsletter.

Although the majority of our funding is restricted – which means we can only spend it on very specific things – we have been able to redirect some money to provide both work opportunities and emergency funds for local artists and arts organizations.  This week we were able to provide 12 creative professionals from a number of disciplines – visual artists, musicians, dance instructors, and others – with funds to help them pay bills that will come due before any government stimulus funds will arrive. 

Another 20 artists will be paid to perform as part of our online April Concert Series.  We have an incredible lineup of talented St. Johns County musicians who will sing and play for you via Facebook every weekday during April, at 7 p.m.

I want to thank our staff and board for their support during this challenging time.  Like many of you, we are adjusting to working remotely, meeting via zoom, and transitioning programs that we normally deliver in-person to the internet.