WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A nonprofit that promotes arts through ongoing education, advocacy, publicity and funding is appealing to the community to support arts and culture in what has proven to be a difficult year.
Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture’s Associate Executive Director said in 2019 alone, arts and culture pumped about $8.5 million into the local economy however changes due to the pandemic caused a major decrease in those numbers.
Ferdine LeBlanc, now project manager of the WFAAC, is an artist who said there is value in having this nonprofit in our community, and he has reaped the benefits first-hand.
“First of all, it got me in contact with a lot of artists around the community that I didn’t know at the time,” LeBlanc said,
And WFAAC’s Associate Director Ann Arnold-Ogden said that is their primary focus, to be an advocate for and support arts and culture in Wichita Falls and surrounding communities.
Odgen said the pandemic did not distract them from that goal but it did affect the way they served the community.
“We really had to shift the way we were delivering the things we normally do online and it was a challenge but I really feel like the arts community is united and is strong and adapted well,” Arnold-Ogden said,
However Arnold-Ogden said after conducting an economic impact study among area arts nonprofit organizations, the results were “devastating” when compared to that of 2019.
“The city funding for arts and culture decreased by 42% to area arts and cultural nonprofits, attendance obviously we couldn’t get together in person, that decreased by almost 70% from 2019 to 2020, charitable contributions dropped as well, individual giving was down,” Arnold-Ogden said.
Arnold-Ogden and LeBlanc said it is going to take some time for the arts and culture community to recover but community support and donations could help steer them in an upward direction.
“A lot of the donations that people send in goes towards giving jobs to artists and I think that’s the main thing here, it’s providing opportunities for artists and giving them jobs,” LeBlanc said
“It doesn’t have to be the alliance, but any arts and cultural organization in our region, they provide what makes this city unique, they define who we are, they tell our story, they are the culture bearers and the history keepers,” Arnold-Ogden said
While there is still much uncertainty where the pandemic is concerned, Arnold-Ogden and LeBlanc said it’s more important now than ever before to be a champion for local artists.