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Bill Lynch: Protect arts and artists now and later

Among the communities hit hardest by efforts to “flatten the curve” to slow and reduce the spread of the coronavirus is the arts community.

Over the past few weeks, several tours, shows and festivals have been canceled or postponed.

In the state, that’s affected upcoming concerts and productions at the Clay Center and the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center, in Charleston; Mountain Health Arena and the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center, in Huntington; and the Creative Arts Center, in Morgantown, among others.

“Mountain Stage” was forced to cancel three shows in West Virginia. Charleston Ballet had to cancel its spring production of “Giselle,” and concerns about health and safety led to the decision by the Charleston Light Opera Guild to cancel its upcoming production of “Memphis.”

Likewise, ArtWalk will not return in March as planned, and the Clay Center has closed its galleries.

Bars, restaurants and coffee houses affected by social distancing directives will not be hosting music or comedy.

Art can’t exist in a vacuum. It needs support to survive.

Many local artists, performers and promoters rely on shows and exhibits for at least some portion of their livelihood. Even if a band, dancer or actor doesn’t pay the rent through the art they make, the extra income helps them to buy equipment and materials or just continue doing what they do.

Art, music, theater and dance are more than entertainment or diversion. The arts enrich our lives, help define our culture and give us some perspective about ourselves and others.

It’s important that we, as a society, support our artists. If you’ve got a favorite band or performer, now might be a good time to go online and buy a CD, T-shirt or sticker, or order a piece of art.

Most are very accessible and can be found on Facebook.

You can also support arts organizations like theater and dance companies. Nearly all of them are glad to take a donation, and some of that may be tax deductible.

You could also become a member of the Clay Center or “Mountain Stage,” both of which come with a relatively small price tag and have benefits you can begin enjoying almost immediately after the current crisis ends.

Even if you don’t have the means to give much support now, remember to make an extra effort to get out to a live show later. If you happen to have a little money to spare, tip the band, comedian or whoever else when someone passes the hat.

Don’t think of it as a handout. It’s not. This will be a thank-you for coming back.

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5195 or follow @lostHwys on Twitter. He’s also on Instagram at instagram.com/billiscap/ and read his blog at blogs.wvgazettemail.com/onemonth.