Since the weekend of March 13, 2020, staged in Chicago all over the country have closed until further notice, and some, sadly, have closed forever. 

The brutal reality is that these closures not only affect the artists and patrons that support the industry, but they also affect the neighborhoods and larger communities where these stages call home. When people spend money on tickets to a show, they are also bringing their money into that neighborhood at the local restaurants, bars, and stores. This is how neighborhoods thrive and with every additional closure, how they die.     

Varaha’s video featuring many (way too many) shuttered Chicago music venues reveals just how bleak the situation is. The longer these organizations have to wait to reopen in order to generate revenue or receive funding to be able to reopen, the less likely they will actually reopen and stay open for business.   

Until there is a comprehensive arts recovery package that will actually #SaveOurStages and theaters are back to operating in a [new] normal capacity, BTD will keep a running list of ways you can help put pressure on lawmakers and otherwise advocate for the arts

Donate to the Chicago Theatre Workers Relief Fund

Earlier this year, the League of Chicago Theatres and The Saints developed the Chicago Theatre Workers Relief Fund to offer assistance to workers who were laid or had gigs cancelled due to COVID. Workers may apply for a one-time $500 grant. At the time of this posting, the League is still taking donations and distributing funds to qualified applicants. Your donation goes directly toward artists and arts workers in the Chicago community. Every little bit helps.     

Write to Congress and tell them to Save Our Stages!

Save Our Stages has become more than a hashtag, it’s a movement. Spearheaded by NIVA, the National Indpendent Venue Association, the link above sends you to fillable form with a letter that will be sent to your state representatives to support the Save Our Stages Act. For months, NIVA has been on the front lines of advocacy work where independent live music venues are concerned. Your support of this petition tells Congress that you believe the arts and its hallowed halls are worth saving. It takes just a few minutes (really), and the letter is pre-written, but when you edit and add your own words, your letter stands out to the office staff who receive and tally them. 

Donate to your favorite Chicago venues directly

CIVL, the Chicago Independent Venue League, advocates on behalf of Chicago’s independent performance venues and acts to secure the long-term future of these and other venues. You can donate to the general fund for CIVL, or they have a page where you can pick which venue to send your donation

Sign the Rescue Agreement

This is a petition for a comprehensive relief bill that focuses on people and small businesses to match the severity and size of the crisis caused by COVID 19.

Specifically it demands support for unemployed people, essential workers, small businesses and independent contractors; funding for state and local governments; housing and healthcare relief, and support for social services that will help people survive this pandemic. Once enough people have signed, a targeted version of the letter and demands will be sent to Congress as a unified ask. 

Donate to Other Theater Organizations

Playbill compiled a list of charities that theater artists have highlighted as notable causes and organizations. While many of them are New York based, it is a heavy reminder that the arts industry has a signifiant impact on a community’s economy and quality of life. COVID has left many artists and arts workers out of a job until we can gather in large groups again. Donate as you are able.  

Be an #ArtsHero and Voice Your Support of the DAWN Act

The Defend Arts Workers Now (DAWN) Act is a bill that would make $43.85 billion available in grants for operators, employees, and artists of live venues, recording venues, cultural spaces, and related businesses to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on all Arts Workers across the national Arts Economy. Call your representatives or sign the petition to show your support.

Click, Share, Retweet, Repeat (and invite your friends to join you!)

Any significant change requires a group effort to propel the movement, and that’s what social media is for. Orgs like NIVA have a strong social presence and hashtags like #SaveOurStages, #DoNotAbandonUs, #RESTARTAmerica, and #extendPUA can draw major attention to this issue, so share and retweet with abandon. The BTD social sites are also regularly posting arts advocacy updates, so please help us spread the word. Share updates on what you’ve done and encourage your friends and followers to do the same. Feel free to @ your representatives to let them know (AGAIN) that the performing arts industry and their venues deserve a comprehensive relief package to restart and stay in business.   

What are other ways you have been an arts advocate? Let us know, and we may just add it to this list!


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