Stuck at home? You can still support Rochester’s creatives.
The wave of concert and play cancellations began last week, when Gov. Tim Walz declared a peacetime emergency in Minnesota, limiting large gatherings and strongly recommending that Minnesotans avoid congregating in places that do not allow for social distancing.
While Rochester theaters and music venues remained open Monday morning, many knew they would see decreased attendance in the near future. Some had implemented crowd-capping practices to try to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.
And if you’re practicing serious social distancing, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, you’re unlikely to go to a show this weekend anyway. But that doesn’t mean you can’t support the arts in town.
Rochester artist Amarama Vercnocke, currently an artist-in-residence at the Castle Community, teaches art classes regularly. They recommend buying gift cards from small businesses and creators now, to help defray the sudden loss of revenue -- after all, you can always use it later.
“For my art classes and I’m sure the same for other places if people ask— if people purchase them and want to use them a month from now, etc., I’m happy to honor that,” Vercnocke said. “That helps a lot for still being able to pay my bills while helping another person’s creative art heart flourish.”
Pick up a local art kit (at Neon Green Studio in the Castle), they added, for “creative fun, safe at home, for the next few weeks as well.” The studio carries Vercnocke’s needle felting kits, as well as mystery art bags, friendship bracelets and more.
You can also use the next few weeks to switch your playlist over to local musicians, many of whom have lost paying gigs because of the virus.
Spotify doesn’t pay musicians as much as iTunes, he said. Band Camp lets people pay more for music, if they want.
“Buy their music,” Novotny said. “If you don’t buy their music, stream it like crazy.”
Local theaters closed some productions, and instituted forgiving return and exchange ticket policies for others -- but if you really want to help, consider a financial gift instead.
“Consider donating the ticket cost back to the organization instead of asking for a refund (even when one is offered),” Absolute Theatre board member Missy Schuman Hagen said.
Amy Garretson, the Education and Community Outreach Manager for the Rochester Art Center, suggested donating to an arts organization online -- “either what your ticket would have cost, or more!”
Readers stuck at home can buy books through arts organizations' gift shops to read at home, or support local artists directly by searching for them on Patreon or GoFundMe.
Finally, Garretson said, you can create your own gallery by purchasing pieces from local visual artists through Etsy.
Short on cash?
“If one is low on money—- commenting and sharing social media about the artist and musician is huge too and helps a lot,” Vercnocke said. “Say a quick ‘love it,’ etc., and share with one’s friends. (It’s) a great way if funds are low because then it does get the artists’ and musicians’ names out there. I dread the word exposure— it does not pay my bills for my children and I— but it does help a bit in this case for the creatives directly.”
“I feel we all do better when we do better,” they added. “And that includes protecting everyone in our community always, first and foremost.”
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