So the final days of 2020 are upon us, and if you're like me, you're seeing quite a few emails from businesses asking you to donate to the organizations before midnight on December 31st. This annual ask has become as synonymous with the holiday season as Black Friday and the realization that your gift-wrapping skills are getting worse each year.
It's understandable in the season of "giving" that many nonprofits seek assistance one last time before the ball drops in hopes of being able to pursue their lofty goals in the new year. It's even more understandable that this year -- a year like no other in recent memory -- has made that ask even more critical and necessary.
With that in mind, I'm here to encourage those who have the capacity after a long and difficult year of profound uncertainty to support arts & culture organizations who need it the most. I don't know how it is in your corner of the world, but many small and medium-size businesses are struggling. On top of that, artists, arts organizations, and those who support arts organizations are hurting significantly as well.
And as is often the case here in the U.S., it's going to take each of us relying on one another to help lift up one another so we can carry on for as long as possible. That's why I wanted to point to these 4 amazing institutions below that have helped keep the arts alive throughout 2020 despite the abrupt downturn.
I don't know about you, but the arts helped me get through 2020 in a way I can't quit articulate. Whether I was binge-watching TV shows or enjoying plays acted out on my computer screen from the comfort of each performers' homes or listening to my favorite tunes to sing or dance along to while taking a break from doom-scrolling or deciding what I can do to help make the world a better place, the arts helped me cope with the intense transformation we're all undergoing in our own way.
The arts have been there for me, and I suspect they've been there for you too. So why not lend them a hand and donate to one of the many small businesses, nonprofits and artist-led organizations that have helped enrich your life in a time of profound disruption, fear, frustration and sorrow.
Not sure who to donate to? Here are a few who I know could use your help:
Now celebrating its 30th Anniversary, Ma-Yi Theater’s mission is to produce and develop new works that shape local and national conversations about what it means to be Asian American today, and the Ma-Yi Writers Lab is the largest resident company of Asian American playwrights in the country. Ma-Yi’s spacious rehearsal studio in Midtown is ideal for rehearsals, readings, and non-performance events. To that end, Ma-Yi provides a nurturing home for exciting, generative, contemporary playwrights to produce risky, challenging, forward-thinking new plays for American theater.
Onstage and off, Ma-Yi is guided by knowing why and for whom they create. Ma-Yi aspires to exemplify the extent to which theater makers can be active local partners to the diverse communities that inspire them, while also participating in larger, global conversations about our roles as artists/citizens.
Give today to help Ma-Yi continue to produce and develop innovative, exciting new work by Asian American playwrights and keep their doors open for theater lovers for years to come.
If you so choose, you can donate here: https://ci.ovationtix.com/162/store/donations/19425
Opened in 2017 after decades in the making, the American Writers Museum in Chicago is on a mission to engage the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture and our daily lives. Like most cultural institutions, the AWM has pivoted to largely virtual exhibitions and programming since March 2020, and in that shift, it continues to provide thought-provoking exhibitions, public programs with today’s authors, and the Write In youth education program.
As a new museum, the AWM has the advantage of a modern, progressive mindset that values diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion as integral parts of the museum’s content, design, human resources, and actions. However, our culture and our world are constantly changing, and they are aware how important it is be proactive in assessing and modifying their strategies to ensure that all aspects of the AWM benefit from diversity and equity, and that all voices are heard.
Your gift to the AWM will help them continue to continue to use culturally-responsive messaging and strategic partnerships to encourage inclusion by everyone in their community and those who visit from afar.
If you so choose, you can donate here: https://americanwritersmuseum.org/join-give/donate/
The New York City Center has played a defining role in the cultural life of the city since 1943 when it was founded by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia with the mission to make the best in the performing arts accessible to all. The distinctive neo-Moorish theater welcomes 300,000 visitors annually to experience internationally acclaimed artists on the same stage where legends like George Balanchine, Leonard Bernstein, and Barbara Cook made their mark. Its landmark 75th Anniversary Season (2018 – 2019) paid tribute to this rich history while celebrating the institution’s singular role in the arts today.
City Center is also home to a roster of renowned national and international companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (City Center’s Principal Dance Company) and Manhattan Theatre Club. Through its robust education and community programs, City Center brings the performing arts to over 11,000 New York City students, teachers, and families each year and activates all areas of the building with talks, master classes, art exhibitions, and intimate performances that provide audiences an up-close look at the work of the great theater and dance artists of our time.
Your contribution will help them maintain this legacy through 2021 and hopefully for many more years to come.
If you so choose, you can donate here: https://www.nycitycenter.org/support/donate-now/
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem is one of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. As a research division of The New York Public Library, the Schomburg Center features diverse programming and collections spanning over 11 million items that illuminate the richness of global Black history, arts, and culture.
Throughout this challenging year, the Schomburg Center has continued to proudly serve its 95-year-old mission to celebrate and preserve Black history and culture. They shifted many of their offerings online, including the Junior Scholars and Teen Curators programs, the annual Literary Festival, and the Juneteenth celebration. They also released their Black Liberation Reading List in response to uprisings around the globe demanding justice for Black lives.
Now this organization is gearing up for all the work they need to accomplish in 2021, when they will continue to adapt and stay true to their mission because of supporters like you.
If you so choose, you can donate here: http://on.nypl.org/3nQiSRM
As you can see from the organizations I selected above, they all reside in major cities in the U.S., and even though you can currently enjoy a great deal of what they have to offer from the comfort of your home, I can understand why you may feel hesitate to donate to a space you may not get to visit any time in the next 6 months. I appreciate that perspective more than you know, as I myself didn't get an opportunity to participate in a discussion at the Schomburg until 2015, see a production at the New York City Center until 2016, or visit the American Writers Museum until 2018. A Ma-Yi Theater production is still on my horizon, but certainly not forgotten.
Otherwise, I know first-hand how these institutions have affected the world of arts & culture and how much they mean to their communities. But what about your community? You never need to step on a plane or train to travel to your local arts center, nearby museum or cultural preservation space. But I'm certain they could use a hand in helping them keep their doors open, enriching the lives of your community and inspiring the next generations of Audra Macdonalds, Anton Treuers, and Hansol Jungs.
Take a look around your fair city and find out how you can donate to help keep the party going for the artists and aspiring artists in your community.
Top Image: Disco Ball by Greyson Joralemon | Second Image: 30 Years of Ma-Yi Theater logo by Ma-Yi Theater | Third Image: American Writers Museum logo by AWM | Fourth Image: New York City Center building in midtown Manhattan by NYCC | Bottom Image: Schomburg Center logo by The Schomburg Center