When COVID-19 hit Eastern Connecticut, Andrew fell into a funk. Since high school, the 41-year-old man with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) had actively participated in structured, specialized programs to learn to perform tasks independently and to stay active.
“For about eight weeks, he just slept around the clock,” his mother, Sharon, of Scotland, says. “He was really down in the dumps. It was so unexpected. He did not even want to join family activities.”
Virtual programming from The Arc Eastern Connecticut perked Andrew up. “The Zoom sessions have been a lifeline,” Sharon says. “Maybe even literally.”
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When The Arc offered virtual programming, Sharon didn’t think Andrew would be up for two sessions daily, but he surprised her. “He was right there! He does not want to miss a moment. He looks forward to it every day. I don’t know what we’d be doing if we were living in the 1918 pandemic without all these technical supports.”
Pamela, John and Melanie live in Niantic. Melanie, 32, was going like gangbusters in The Arc’s vocational program, baking Classic Crunch Chocolate Chip Cookies at ShopRite in New London. “That whole program, with the cookie baking and how you sell those cookies, is one of the most innovative programs in the country,” John said.
Melanie’s job involved mixing dry ingredients into batter as her friend Sean added eggs and butter. “The cookie job became a real job,” John said, “and she was very proud of that. We’re looking forward to when it’s appropriate for her to resume her career.”
Although The Arc ECT lawn crew operated throughout the pandemic, in recent weeks the
Poetry, painting, sculpture and song are emerging from one of the darkest periods in modern U.S. history.
Bucks County Courier Times
Virtual programming isn’t a Band-Aid for arts organizations anymore. It’s become a lifeline for many groups in New Jersey while theaters, museums, studios and more remain shut down due to coronavirus.
And it’s become a key component of their futures, even when it’s safe for the curtains to go up and the doors to re-open.
The good news is that virtual programming has been somewhat of a silver lining, allowing organizations to stretch their innovation, keep some employees on the payroll, continue connecting with audiences, expand their reach beyond their local communities, and, in some cases, even raise funds.
But despite the bright points, there’s no way to sugarcoat the situation as a whole. The shutdown forced by the pandemic, which began in mid-March, has decimated the arts industry in the state and around the country.
The stars will be out in Newark this fall and winter at New Jersey Performing Arts Center. (Photo: Courtesy of NJPAC)
New Jersey’s nonprofit arts institutions lost $30 million in revenue as of July, a number that has only continued to grow, according to the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
More: NJ theaters, museums have lost $30M so far due to COVID. Here’s how you can help.
New Jersey’s nonprofit arts sector is made up of more than 500 theaters, museums, galleries, performing arts centers, dance companies, symphonies and other cultural groups across the state.
It’s not just the organizations themselves that are suffering. The ripple effect the industry has on its communities is far-reaching.
In fiscal year 2019, it pumped more than $662 million into New Jersey’s economy, including $29 million to local