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Art & Soul: The Visual Arts - Community & Creativity And A Look Back At 2020

Omari Rush
Lisa Barry
89.1 WEMU

Just a few months into the year, life changed for everyone, including local artists, due to a global health crisis.  Lisa Barry talks with Omari Rush, executive director of CultureSource and Chair of the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, about how that impacted the visual arts community and how that community will be changed in the coming years due to that impact.

March 12, 2020: That was the last time Lisa Barry and Omari Rush spoke face-to-face about the latest in the visual arts.  By then, the COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning, and it wasn't long before many businesses and organizations, including art museums and theatres, felt the sting.

Omari saw COVID-19's effect on the art community as "devastating."  Particularly, it was because art venues were the "first to close" and will be the "last to open."  Worse yet, these establishments weren't defined as "small businesses," and, therefore, they would not qualify for any state or federal assistance.  So, community support became more important than ever.

Despite the pandemic, Lisa and Omari still found plenty to celebrate in the art world.  Among the year's highlights were the Prison Arts Creative Project, the University of Michigan Museum of Art's "UMMA at Home" initiative, and the Ann Arbor outdoor mural project sponsored by the Arts Alliance.

Omari's vision for 2021 (besides the coronavirus vaccine becoming widely available) is for people to rally behind their local arts organizations and for more digital work and experience to become known throughout the artistic world.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her atlbarryma@emich.edu

Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
Omari Rush has a continually expanding role of service as both an artistic administrator and community leader, in part through his work as curator of public programs at the Ann Arbor Art Center.
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