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Portland artists and art industry feeling the impacts of COVID-19

This week KGW Sunrise takes a closer look at the state of Portland's arts scene amid the coronavirus pandemic.

PORTLAND, Ore — The coronavirus pandemic is impacting the Portland arts scene.

From the symphony and ballet, to bar bands and burlesque shows, live performances are on hold.

The local industry can't even think about reopening until Phase 3. So it's going to be awhile, but these live performances are more than just weekend fun.

Nationally, arts and cultural programs contribute billions of dollars to our economy.

This week on KGW, I’ll be digging into the issue and highlighting ways you can help.

I talked to Andrew Recinos about what local artists are up against. He’s a musician turned tech expert. As the President of the Tessitura Network, he helps 700 arts organizations in 10 countries run their businesses.

PART I: Arts organizations and artists feeling the impact of COVID-19:

“Artists are creators. They can't help themselves," Recinos said. "They look at the same things that everybody is looking at and they see something different. They take a world--like we're in right now, a world that can be very stark and bleak--and they give us a reason for hope and joy for the future.”

But with COVID-19 closing the curtain on large gatherings, Recinos took to Facebook and wrote a poignant post about what’s at stake.

He told me “anywhere from 40 to 60 to 70 percent of the arts industry right now is unemployed or laid off or furloughed. And that's probably not going to change for many months. Depending on the organization, about half their income may come from ticket sales and about half from private donations from individuals, corporations, foundations.”

Part II: How to support arts and culture during COVID-19:

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Recinos said the arts contribute $877 billion dollars to the national economy. He said 4.5% of the economy comes from the arts, that’s bigger than travel and agriculture.

So will the arts in Portland bounce back after the pandemic? Recinos is optimistic. He said from the iconic groups, to the smaller acts that "Keep Portland Weird," the Rose City has an amazing cultural ecosystem. 

“People come to Portland for the vibe, right? And think how much of the vibe comes out of the inherent cultural diversity we have in this city and the art that we produce.”

Part III: Art organizations look to better reflect the communities they serve:

Recinos says if the public takes care of artists, they’ll be there for us when we emerge from this pandemic and can gather again.

Bravo! I, for one, can’t wait.