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Arts organizations take to social media to support local artists during COVID-19

ncma social media .jpeg

Visitors walk by Thomas Sayre's sculpture "Gyre" at the North Carolina Museum of Art. The museum, among other organizations, has taken to social media to promote the arts. Photo courtesy of Kat Harding. 

Many local arts organizations are taking to social media to promote local artists and share art — in a time when some people may need art more than ever.

One reason the commission has taken to social media, said Katie Murray, director of the Orange County Arts Commission, is to promote the Orange County Arts Support Fund, which will send funds to local artists who are struggling to earn income during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund has raised more than $4,800 to date through GoFundMe. 

Murray said the experience has increased awareness of the arts as a major piece of the economy.

“When our arts organizations have to close their doors, it ripples out,” Murray said. “If you think about when you go to a concert at Memorial Hall, you've got the people that are working at that concert, but then you've also got the guys that are working in the parking lots. You've got restaurant workers who have bumped up staff to accommodate a crowd to go to a show. All of that goes away when there's not arts.”

The commission is also using social media to share resources for artists and promote how organizations and artists have adapted to the times.

“So many people are getting creative about how they're bringing their art to the public,” Murray said. “We're trying to collect what everybody's doing so we can help spread the word and help them build their audiences.”

Kathryn Wagner, Arts Everywhere associate director, said the organization is looking for ways to support student artists on social media, especially seniors whose final shows may have been canceled.

“That's one of the biggest bummers, that students have been working on a project for a semester or for the year and are now having challenges finding an outlet to share their art,” Wagner said. “So, we're trying to be a resource to them and highlight what they've been working on.”

Wagner also said sharing content from student artists on social media is a great way to support them during this difficult time.

“Retweeting, engaging with content on social media platforms, commenting — all of that can provide a supportive and uplifting experience for everybody, whether you're the one enjoying the performance or the one participating in it,” Wagner said. 

The North Carolina Museum of Art closed on March 17 to limit to spread of COVID-19, in accordance with Gov. Roy Cooper's executive order.

While NCMA will be closed until further notice, it is staying active on social media by participating in several national hashtag campaigns, including #MuseumFromHome and #MuseumBouquet, along with other museums around the country. They have also tweeted a series of works by North Carolina artists from the museum collection that came out of challenging times.

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Kat Harding, the museum’s public relations and social media manager, said the museum is continuing to look for ways to highlight and support local artists while the museum is closed. 

“We're still trying to keep that connection with local artists and the whole community, just virtually,” Harding said.

Harding hopes that sharing art through the museum’s social media accounts will help to soothe people.

“It can be unifying and soothing to look at something beautiful and take a moment to relax in between the rest of what's coming out,” Harding said.