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With Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department’s order to stay in place, The Lawrence Arts Center has made the difficult decision to close our building to the public through May 17. Speaking for our staff and the artists who work here, this is the most difficult decision any of us have had to make in our professional lives. We are a community organization; because of that, all our decisions start with the understanding that each and every person in our community is important. In this moment, we find ourselves in a time where public health supersedes our business. Our priority right now is to do what is necessary to preserve health and well-being in our community during this national crisis, despite having to face that closing means we lose income we would usually earn through tuition, ticket sales and event proceeds. Normally, the majority of our income goes directly towards employing people. Like so many other businesses in Lawrence right now, closing will affect our ability to do this in the way we always have.
As an organization made up of artists, we consider our core values of creativity, community and connection more important than ever.Right now and in the coming weeks, we are focused on finding as many alternative ways to retain the people and programs in our organization whenever we can. We believe in the power of the arts and the collective action of artists to help sustain our communities, even more so in times of crisis. We understand that this public health crisis is not only an emergency of the medical kind. This emergency is a challenge to everything that holds us together. Facing this challenge compels us to act in ways we have never had to before on the values we share, to demonstrate what we mean to each other, and to resist isolation by finding new tools and defining methods that strengthen our connection to each other as individuals, neighbors and a community. The job of artists is, and always has been, exactly this. We are the creators, connectors, conveners, and community builders. I cannot think of a more critical time for artists in our world.
Even though we cannot convene our classes physically right now, we are still with you. The Lawrence Arts Center is committed to finding new ways to convene, connect and build community. While there will be cancellations and postponements, our programs will continue as much as they can, wherever they can, outside of a physical experience. Where we are able, we will offer classes online. Whenever possible, we will live stream performances. When we have the opportunity, we will broadcast artist talks and give virtual tours of exhibitions. Whenever we find them, we will share creative resources, information and stories on our website, social media, youtube channel and whatever useful platforms we can find. We invite you to join us on our new adventures online.
Once this crisis has passed, we will turn our full focus once again on this place being our community’s creative center, healthy, hardy and better from the experience. We look forward to that time.
Ad astra per aspera,
Margaret Weisbrod Morris, CEO
Clare Doveton, Board President
and the Lawrence Arts Center Staff