Each spring the West Windsor Arts Council, like so many nonprofits, reaches out to its supporters to ask for donations that help fulfill their mission to transform the world around them through the arts. But this year, there will be no letter in the mail.
In an effort to promote the safety and wellness of its community and staff, the West Windsor Arts Council will not be asking anyone to send checks. But they are asking those who are able to go online and make a donation. Our very existence is counting on it.
In compliance with requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the State of New Jersey, WWAC closed the art center on March 13. The annual gala, the remaining sessions of winter adult and youth classes, a spring break arts camp, and a film program were all cancelled. Depending upon when the art center will be able to reopen, more core programs, which are intrinsic to its mission as well as important sources of revenue, will also be lost. Additionally, we are concerned about the repercussions the shutdown will have on over 40 teaching and performing artists.
“It’s devastating not to be able to welcome people into our warm and supportive art center,” said Aylin Green, Executive Director, “but we have pledged to be here for our community, providing the soul-nourishing arts programs that we are known for. Being small and innovative has allowed us to quickly provide ways to help everyone get through this.”
The first project since the shutdown was to offer a daily art prompt on its Facebook and Instagram sites. With each prompt, people of all abilities are invited to make drawings, photos, songs, and more inspired by the word. All one needs to do is create something, post it on their social media of choice, and tag it with #WWArtsEveryDay. The results are then shared in an ongoing affirmation of the power of creativity.
As an organization known for its award-winning arts classes for all ages, this spring we launched a series online. The goal is to keep providing content and engagement with the arts alive now and to reopen the arts center with teaching artists and staff intact and prepared to pick up where it left off in the future. Offerings range from the traditional visual and performing art mediums like painting and singing to digital illustration, digital photography, and doodling. Scholarships are available for those with financial hardship.
The most recent initiative is to organize our volunteers, many of whom are artists and craftspeople, to make masks for medical support staff dealing with COVID-19. Called the “WWArts 1000 Mask Donation,” they will distribute the masks in partnership with the local group “The Mercer Mask Project,” who recently received a request from the National Guard for 1000 masks.
In order to keep operations running, we have applied for emergency grants and loans from NJ and federal CARES act sources. The sad reality is that this may still not be enough. Because the need is so great, an Anonymous Donor has come forward with a generous challenge. Any donations made to the West Windsor Arts Council through June 30th will be matched 2 to 1 – up to $20,000. That’s two dollars for every one dollar that is given.
We hope you will find ways to make the arts part of your life. Now and for many years to come.