by Luke Putvin
The closure of many businesses and banning of gatherings in response to COVID-19 has impacted many people, including those in the arts community. Visual and performing arts alike have been affected.
Lynn Hanson, a member of the Lynnwood Arts Commission, has been an artist since 1995. She has operated an art gallery in Pioneer Square in Seattle for nine years, and she has been the owner of Lynn Hanson Gallery for four years with her husband Robert Gutcheck as her business partner.
“I was able to be open for First Thursday Art Walk, March 5th. We noticed a smaller attendance,” Hanson said. “We can usually count on two to three hundred people coming through. I would say the number was cut in half. I had to cancel the reception planned for the artist, Mike O’Day on March 10 due to concerns over COVID-19 and have been closed since that day. I have had to cancel three workshops that were planned to take place in my gallery.”
Hanson mentioned her concern regarding galleries having the ability to pay their rent and stay in business, and she said that some galleries have developed online shopping options to sell pieces as well as setting up online workshops. Additionally, she said, the Lynnwood Arts Commission has had to cancel their monthly meetings and new exhibits planned for City Hall and the Lynnwood Recreation Center.
One potential resource for artists at this time, mentioned by Hanson, is Artist Trust. For more information, visit www.artisttrust.org for information on how to apply for artist grants.
Violinist Rachell Ellen Wong grew up in Lynnwood and attended Lynnwood High School. She moved to New York in 2016 to attend Julliard and pursue a performing arts career. She has been playing violin for 22 years. Before the outbreak, her job had her travelling at least two weeks out of every month to Europe, China or throughout the United States with performances a few times a week.
“I’m out of work for who knows how long,” Wong said. “All of my concerts have been cancelled, even through the summer… I’ve been applying for relief funds, and I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Wong recently received the prestigious 2020 Avery Fisher Career Grant. “I feel very lucky to have that right now,” she said. “Everybody [in the arts community] is in the same boat, wondering what they’re going to do and how they’re going to pay rent.”
Wong said that people are coming together to do virtual concerts online, among other things. She also said that a silver lining of this is that a lot of people are taking the time to do something they wouldn’t otherwise, like learn a piece they may have always wanted to learn but have never had the time to.
“I definitely feel like there’s so much support within our music community,” Wong said.
There is support in Edmonds as well at the Edmonds Theater. The theater was built in 1923 after a 1919 fire destroyed the previous building. This building has stood since then. It closed on March 16.
In the last week alone, the theater has sold about 13-14 thousand dollars worth of “golden tickets” or gift certificate admission passes. Manager Chris Mayes is confident that the theater can get through this.
“I do think that the Edmonds community, and the local area of Lynnwood and Shoreline, appreciates small business and appreciates the theater,” Mayes said. “It’s going to be tough. I’m not going to say we’ll sail through, but I’m very confident we can get through this.”
Mayes mentioned the advantage of having the flexibility of a single-screen theater. Being located at only a single site and having one screen is cheaper cost-wise, and there are ways to be creative with what is shown.
“The film industry won’t be able to come back right away,” Mayes said. Many current productions are halted. However, even if there are not many new films when the bans on gatherings lift, Mayes said the theater can show some older films or even put video games on the big screen.
“Whatever we can play legally and the audience wants to see, we will do,” he said.