The University of Texas at San Antonio assembled arts professionals for something called Re-imagining the Future of Arts in San Antonio and Beyond. They met remotely in a Zoom webinar, and right off, they noted how much the world has changed in the last few months. Here’s the Department of Music's Tracy Cowden.
"It's not just artists that are affected by this situation. Audiences have been deprived of the ability to experience art, music, dance and theater in a live setting,” she said. “But artists are nothing if not resourceful and have adapted quickly to produce content for the virtual environment that we all find ourselves in."
Associate Professor of Art Libby Rowe noted artists’ ability to handle adversity.
"The great thing about artists is that we're pretty resilient and we're problem solvers. So we're finding all these great, unique ways to engage and to interact that, you know, maybe we wouldn't do on a regular basis in this new, virtual talking head world."
Troy Peters, Director of the UTSA Orchestra and Music Director of the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio, offered up sobering statistics.
“Sixty-two percent of artists and performers in the United States have become fully unemployed in the last 90 days.”
He noted it might be quite a while before any real sense of normalcy returns.
“At least in the world of performing arts, we can't all get back on stage until there's a long-term solution, like a vaccine or some other kind of treatment,” he said. “We could be in a period of years where we're talking about limited audiences and strict limitations on the numbers of performers who can get into a venue."
All participants said they are up for the challenges, despite the hard, unplotted road ahead. Peters had one last point of caution.
"What's exciting is it's an opportunity for creativity. But what's daunting is not all of us are going to make it as organizations," he said.
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