Fresno County arts industry feels the impact of closures

KSEE24 News

FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Now Fresno County has moved back to the Purple Tier for COVID-19 infection control, museums, and theaters have been forced to close their doors to indoor visitors once again.

“So many museums and galleries have had to cut back their staff, so many of them are wondering, ‘What are we going to do next?’ And we’re all just trying to stay alive,” said Ruth Saludes, Executive Director of Arte Americas.

Although many places are getting assistance through grant programs, some say it’s not enough.

Dan Pessano, managing director of the theater group Good Company Players, said they have 25 employees who are now all receiving unemployment.

To make up for their losses, they’re selling gift certificates for future performances at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater, whenever that may be.

“If you do have gift certificate money, and you see the light of day coming up, you use that to pay expenses, you know, for building the sets and costumes and things like that… and for people. We have hugely-talented people on staff that deserve to be paid,” said Pessano.

For Arte Americas, a non-profit Latinx cultural arts center in Downtown Fresno, the closures have been costly for different reasons.

“So many things happened during COVID,” said Saludes. ”One of the most difficult things that happened was that we had a lot of vandalism and a broken window, a fire set on the property.”

Saludes said the biggest toll is on the community, deprived of art at a time when people need it most.

Arte Americas is holding outdoor markets with vendors and traditional music, and the Fresno Art Museum has moved its exhibits online to spread joy and beauty from a distance.

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