As arts performances and festivals have been called off and venues have shut their doors during COVID-19, artists of all kinds are struggling.
According to data collected by Americans for the Arts, nearly two-thirds of artists report having become unemployed since the start of the pandemic.
Locally, the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre is just one of many arts venues in Bloomington working to respond to complications created by COVID-19. Its location in the heart of downtown gives it prime visibility.
Jonah Crismore stepped into the executive director’s position at the Buskirk right as the pandemic started.
“A lot of my job, especially in those initial four to six weeks was a lot of juggling, rescheduling, talking to agents and managers, trying to read the tea leaves, could a show in July possible happen, could a show in August possibly happen?”
He says adapting to decreased revenue and uncertainty booking shows in the year to come are just a few struggles the Buskirk has experienced.
Since the pandemic, around 50 events have been canceled or rescheduled at the Buskirk, which is a big hit to revenue.
“Right now, it’s all about how we can create activity, create opportunities for us to fulfill our mission within the community. But at the same time that’s not necessarily going to be live performances.”
The theater has turned to virtual events as one way to generate revenue during the pandemic.
Although navigating what experiences people are willing to pay for is not always clear, Crismore says one upside to virtual events is audience members from all over can participate. He cites an audience for a recent virtual event with drummer Jay Lane:
“I forget exactly how it broke down but a great number of them weren’t even from Indiana," Crismore says. "There were a lot of them from Canada.”
Crismore says another idea moving into summer and fall is holding more outdoor events and working a seating plan for indoor events that would allow for more distance between patrons.
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