Exec Ed plays supporting role as arts leaders confront COVID-19 crisis
novel coronavirus pandemic spurred shutdowns in mid-March, Executive Education alumnus
Stephen Butler ’04 MA (PA), quickly organized a call with stakeholders in
Central New York’s arts community. A priority was developing a survey to quantify
the anticipated financial losses the health crisis would cause the arts and
entertainment industry in Central New York.
organizations, the shutdowns immediately meant lost income because their
business model is meant to bring people together,” said Butler, who has led CNY
Arts for 12 years. “What that’s meant is huge losses of income and difficulty
reopening and performing.”
A spring survey
commissioned by CNY Arts found that artists and arts agencies estimated $15
million losses between March and fall 2020. More than 265 artists and
representatives of arts organizations responded; of them, 75% said the pandemic
severely impacted their livelihoods or organizations.
The survey results
provided data for CNY Arts to launch the CNY Arts COVID-19 Impact Fund, which has
raised nearly $500,000 toward its $1 million goal.
“The role of
the arts council in a crisis is to try to find ways to keep the industry
connected and get resources to help as many as possible,” said Butler, a
veteran of the arts world and a Maxwell ambassador.
“tells the story” about the pandemic’s impact on the arts, he said, adding,
“It’s been devastating.”
from Maxwell’s public administration program complement Butler’s arts expertise
and guide his day-to-day leadership and were especially helpful as his agency responded
to a complex and far-reaching crisis. The survey, he noted, reflects how data
can assess conditions and guide solutions.
he also drew from Maxwell and Executive Education’s emphasis on networking,
leadership, budgeting and public policy.
Korman, film fund program director for CNY Arts, started Maxwell’s Executive MPA
program in January 2020. He sees the many ways the arts community intersects
with government budgets and polices, and community well-being.
are a unifying experience,” he said. “It’s so vital to the welfare of the community.
It provides economic and social impetus.”
comes easily to people working in theater and film production, Korman said. That
spirit will go a long way as the arts community finds its way through this
crisis. Korman is eager to learn how collaboration fits into public policy as
Korman praised the creativity and energy many arts agencies have displayed in adapting
performances, shows and fundraisers to social media and livestreaming.
and theater fans likely miss what Butler calls “the zest” of live performance, he
sees a silver lining amid the challenges. “Experiencing arts online has
eradicated barriers,” he said. “More people are accessing the arts.”