A Way of Life to Go Back To

Young residents from White Plains Housing Authority helped to design and create a mural on the construction walls at the Winbrook/Brookfield Commons

When I was a girl growing up in Far Rockaway, it was wartime. My parents worried that German submarines would be coming across the Atlantic Ocean to our beaches. They would sit for hours in front of the living room radio, hanging on every word from the frontline. Now it is wartime again in America. Only this time, it’s a war against an invisible enemy that we can’t see, but we know can kill us. And now it’s me, glued to the television, watching a rising death toll and wondering whether a divided America can battle this disease to the ground.  And, to what end?  Can we go back to the way of life in which music and art flourished?  More to the point, will our way of life be there for us to go back to?  Make no mistake, in this moment we are fighting for our way of lives.

All across America, organizations like ArtsWestchester are fighting to open our theaters, bring back music and dance lessons for our kids and watch films, not alone at home but together with friends… Imagine the sheer luxury of spending a day at the museum?

The arts are suffering like never before. In a quick and thoroughly unscientific survey, we determined that 50% of Westchester arts organizations are struggling financially.

Perhaps large and well-positioned organizations like the Met and MOMA will survive. But, what about the local theater group that performs in the Armonk library or the visual artists that go into the Yonkers schools or the outdoor mural at the White Plains Housing Authority, or the PJS Jazz Society concerts in a Mount Vernon church? ArtsWestchester, with support from Westchester County Government, keeps these cultural gatherings (now virtual) alive for all who come. And the truth is that the gathering is as important as the music and the art. These are the things we call our way of life. These are the soul of our communities. Make no mistake, although we will try, not every beloved arts group of the hundreds that ArtsWestchester supports will survive. Nationally, the coronavirus has so far dealt an estimated economic blow of $14 billion to America’s arts and cultural sector. And here in Westchester, our cultural organizations are hanging tough, counting the days when they can be fully open and once more welcoming  audiences.  The question that many people ask: Will these wonderful cultural destinations we love so much be there for us when COVID is gone? The answer is – only if we care enough.  So please…send a little love to the arts community. They need it now.