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ArtBeat, Feature

State of the Art 

The COVID-19 crisis has presented a host of unique challenges for visual artists. Galleries, museums and individual artists continue to scramble to move artwork online. The City of Malibu opened a group show just before the COVID shutdown closed Malibu City Hall. The show, which features works by more than 50 artists, is now online. The Topanga Canyon Gallery was an early adopter of a hybrid approach: showing artwork online and offering gallery access by appointment (https://www.topangacanyongallery.com). That seems to be increasingly the norm, as galleries across L.A. find ways to reopen while meeting COVID-19 safety requirements.

Artists are also increasingly looking for their own online options to showcase work, creating a windfall for companies that offer a marketplace for artwork, like Etsy.com, and social media sites like Instagram, which is eclipsing more formal gallery sites.

California artists grappling with both the coronavirus crisis and fallout from the controversial labor law AB5, may soon get some relief. 

AB5 placed arbitrary limits on how much freelance work many professionals would be allowed to perform before having to be classified as employees leaving many creative professionals in limbo.

AB 2257, “the worker classification: employees and independent contractors: occupations: professional services” bill is expected to be signed by Governor Gavin Newsom later this month. It attempts to clean up the mess made by AB5. It would grant exemptions to fine artists, freelance writers, cartographers, illustrators, photographers, and newspaper cartoonists, among other professions, releasing them from restrictive limits on the amount of freelance work each individual can accept without having to be classified as an employee. 

Critics of the law and its author—San Diego area Assemblymember Lorena Gonzales—argue that the changes are too little and too late, but for freelancers in the professions set to receive exemptions, the change can’t come soon enough.

While the arts have not been a high priority for government assistance during the coronavirus crisis, there are some resources available, including a limited number of relief grants. There are still calls for submissions and art jobs. Not even COVID can crush the spirit of the arts community. Check out the resources, below.

The National Endowment for the Arts maintains an up-to-date list of Covid resources for artists: www.arts.gov/covid-19-resources-for-artists-and-arts-organizations

The Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture also offers Covid-related resource links, including relief funds, awards and fellowships for artists: www.lacountyarts.org

The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs also offers resources for artists, and a second on art education for children and teens. www.culturela.org/programs-and-initiatives/arts-resources-during-covid-19-2/

Californian for the Arts is another source for resources, as well as opportunities to advocate for the arts: www.californiansforthearts.org/covid19-resources

The organization Artists for LA lists calls for artists and submission: www.artsforla.org/artist_opportunities

The California Arts Council maintains a list of artist calls: www.arts.ca.gov/opportunities/artist.php

For art job listings throughout California, visit: www.cac.ca.gov/opportunities/jobs.php

Making a Mark is a popular British artist blog that offers plenty of material that is germane to all artists. Recent posts have included guidelines for artists meeting in groups and on keeping visitors safe at galleries and exhibition space. Britain is far ahead of California in reopening, but reading about the process is encouraging and helpful for local artists looking forward to a day when things begin to return to normal. www.makingamark.blogspot.com

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