As an immediate response to the pandemic, the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), Maryland State Department of Education’s Fine Arts Office, Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance, and Maryland Citizens for the Arts collaborated to offer four public LISTENING SESSIONS. The initial sessions were attended by 250 stakeholders who shared recommendations and prioritized actions to mobilize support. Through the public sessions, consistent communication guided independent artists to think of themselves as entrepreneurs and arts organizations to think of themselves as small businesses, and, for both individuals and organizations, to encourage the pursuit of applicable state and federal loan and grant programs. In addition to the LISTENING SESSIONS, three recurring virtual communities were established to deal with immediate concerns in real time, provide updates, hold the space for peer-to-peer sharing, and offer relevant professional development. A common thread evident in all public sessions was re-envisioning of the arts in Maryland. Total constituents in the combined virtual sessions numbered greater than 1,000 attendees, and the information collected formed the basis for the guiding documents below:
The Future of Maryland's Arts Sector
The arts sector experienced unprecedented loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The estimated total economic impact to date is $5.5 billion, nationally, and $14.6 million in Maryland. 95% of all scheduled events were cancelled resulting in 1.3 million Marylanders, and 57.3 million Americans, not attending arts events.