By Crystal Harrell
With a state-mandated shelter in place order and the closure of many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been challenges posed for those quarantined—financially and emotionally. In addition to non-essential businesses, the arts and culture in the Coachella Valley are taking a hard hit from the current crisis. Music and theater performances, museum gallery exhibitions, film screenings, and other events have been canceled or postponed, while many jobs pertaining to these arts institutions have been lost.
As a response, the California Desert Arts Council (CDAC) and the La Quinta Arts Foundation strive to fulfill their mission and serve the community by providing essential information and resources. The CDAC and affiliate La Quinta Arts Foundation have established a $50,000 fund to award grants to artists of all disciplines and nonprofit arts organizations to create thoughtful, inspiring, and relevant works responding to the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the Keep Art Alive program.
“We are calling on Coachella Valley artists working in all media — visual, performing, and written and spoken word — to create new works that we will share with the community in unity and hope. We want to support creative individuals as well as organizations with a financial and promotional boost when they need it most,” said Christi Salamone, president and CEO of the organizations.
The Keep Art Alive program will award $500 grants to selected artists and $1,500 grants to selected nonprofit organizations with budgets up to $1 million. The CDAC will publish and promote selected works and tell the stories of the artists and organizations through their outreach platforms.
Submissions will be accepted for consideration until June 1, with the CDAC welcoming submissions in various disciplines, including Visual Art and Craft, Music and Sound Art, Dance, Written Word (poetry or short stories), and Spoken Word. All works must be original and created specifically for this initiative. Previously published or exhibited works are not eligible to receive the grant.
Individual working artists must also be primarily engaged in exhibiting, performing, presenting, or publishing their art to support their livelihood, as this grant is not open to only hobbyists.
There are many artists who have already applied for the grant, with the winners being awarded and posted on the official CDAC website. One such winner is Rancho Mirage artist Sofia Enriquez for one of the paintings from the new series of pictures she has created. The painting has three main components: a grieving woman, a new age grim reaper, and a snake in its brand new raw skin.
“The [green and blue] colors of the background show the containment of the natural cycles of life, death, and rebirth on Earth. This pandemic is making what I thought were ‘normal’ aspects of my life run even quicker through these cycles and has changed my perspective of what is important,” explained Enriquez.
Another artist, Anthony Irizarry, created a highly-detailed drawing with a graphite pencil called Is It Safe Yet?, depicting a puppy stepping out from its doghouse wearing a surgical mask. Irizarry specializes in drawing people, animals, and other subjects. He has exhibited and sold work in the Coachella Valley, including at the Palm Springs Art Museum, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.
“Many of us are dealing with the concerns of not knowing when we will be able to go about our normal lives again. My drawing shows these feelings from a pet’s point of view, because during these tough times, our pets are just as uncertain as we are. It reflects the uncertainty that we are all facing,” said Irizarry.
To learn more about the fund program and how to apply, visit the CDAC website at cadesertarts.org.