Supporting Arts, Culture, and Each Other During the Pandemic

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Things are so chaotic it is hard to know what to do or how to help each other right now, or even how to turn off our overworked brains for just long enough to regroup. We have all become so much more vulnerable—not just to the coronavirus itself but to its various effects. The inhumanity of our systems are laid bare: with the ability to afford healthcare being dependent on income, and income so quickly frozen, and most workers having literally no cushion in their bank account. Due to all the necessary closures of public places—bars, restaurants, theaters, venues—working people are scrambling to figure out how to pay their bills, rent, and health insurance. Small businesses have to retool their sales models and hope for the best; arts institutions have to rethink programming for the rest of the year; educators and students have to quickly figure out how to adapt to online learning. 

Well before the Trump administration and Congress started to consider doling out crumbs via potential stimulus checks (after cruelly obfuscating the severity of this coronavirus and actually profiting off of it), communities and networks of people were already jumping in to try to help one another, organizing mutual aid and support, collecting donations to give to others in precarious situations. Seeing this organic, proactive response happen in Baltimore is keeping me afloat.

There are so many moving parts and changing policies as the minutes roll by and in the coming days, weeks, and months maybe we will see some actual economic aid and policy that makes more sense than a paltry check that won’t even cover the rent come through to assist workers and businesses. 

Until that comes around, if it comes around, I have compiled this work-in-progress list of resources and ways to support Baltimore-based artists, service-industry workers, and small businesses. If you have money to spare, consider throwing a little extra towards your favorite bartender who can’t work right now, or contribute to the funds that are being redistributed amongst the community. Donate or become a member of your local arts institutions. Buy work from an artist you like. Many of the following are oriented towards people who are looking to help others, but if you’re a person seeking help there are a few resources below.

There are seemingly infinite angles to try to focus on right now, this list is by no means exhaustive, and things are moving rapidly—but I wanted to try to organize, into one convenient location, some of the one-off fundraisers and spreadsheets that I have seen floating around the internet individually. Feel free to email me ([email protected]) if you have further suggestions.

Stay home as much as you can, practice social distancing, wash your hands and disinfect frequently touched surfaces/objects, and keep your eyes on the CDC and local news coverage.

UPDATE March 23: As of 5 p.m. on Monday, March 23, Gov. Hogan has ordered all “non-essential” businesses to close, which includes retail stores. Restaurants are still reportedly able to do delivery and carry-out orders.

Photo via Normal's Books & Records Facebook


Baltimore Mutual Aid Spreadsheet: Request or find folks available to do pet/child care, emotional/spiritual support, food, housing, healthcare, and more.

Baltimore Neighborhood Quarantine Response Teams: Sign up to volunteer or sign up for assistance, based on neighborhood. 

-Open Society Institute-Baltimore’s COVID-19 Information and Resources: General info, local government resources, community based support, educational resources and more.

-Washington Project for the Arts COVID-19 Visual Artist Impact Survey: WPA is collecting data from visual artists about how the coronavirus is affecting them (including financially) to identify artists’ needs, inform funders, share survey results among artists and arts organizations that complete the survey, and “create an evolving, historical record of the COVID19 crisis and its impact on artists.”



Necessary Tomorrows’ fund for Baltimore-based Black artists: A “small but mighty” fund powered independently by Sharayna Christmas. (Application)

Alanah’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund for Artists & Freelancers: Independent fund run by artist/organizer Alanah Nichole for artists who lost money due to canceled gigs. (Application)

Shades Collective: “Help Us Help Each Other” fund for BIPOC creatives.

COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resources: Lengthy document which includes links to emergency fund applications along with “general preparedness” resources, advocacy groups, online teaching tips, mental health resources, remote work opportunities and more—all oriented around the arts. 



-On Friday, March 20, the music platform Bandcamp is waiving its usual commission—so 100% of sales will go right back to the musicians. Browse Baltimore music on Bandcamp.

Creative Alliance: Connect with the Highlandtown institution from a safe distance or virtually via Drag Storytime (March 24, 26, 31, April 2 on Facebook Live); hosting your own Kite Fest (buy a kite pack for $30); and the “Sidewalk Serenades” which is mostly already sold out, but per Baltimore Magazine: “For a donation, these ‘close (but not too close)’ personal concerts will offer city residents the opportunity to have a short musical performance delivered to their homes or sent as a gift to friends and family, with musicians performing several songs outside while keeping a safe distance from the sidewalk or street.” 

Single Carrot Theatre: Final show of the season, titled we broke up, will be performed online in mid-April.

-The Parkway Theatre announced online screenings of Bacurau and Saint Frances (with more to be announced).



-Galerie Myrtis will be doing a virtual tour of the exhibition Women Heal through Rite and Ritual, email [email protected] for more info.

-Gallery Blue Door’s exhibition of Tracey Halvorsen’s art, To Hell’s Canyon and Back, will be viewable Saturday, March 21, via livestream.

Young Audiences Emergency Financial Assistance for Teaching Artists: “In the next two weeks alone, over 49 performing, visual, literary, and media artists affiliated with Young Audiences will lose more than $69,000 in income because of school closures. If closures continue into April, an even larger community of teaching artists will lose an additional $97,000. As freelancers and independent contractors, if teaching artists don’t work, they don’t earn the money they need to live.”

Make Studio: Buy art supplies, donate, purchase art.



Note: As mentioned above, this list is not exhaustive. (You can email me more suggestions.) Many shops and restaurants, if they are not offering delivery or pickup at the moment, are selling gift cards. And here’s an article from The Sun on how to safely order carryout and delivery. 

Food & Drink

Find your favorite servers, bartenders, and cooks from your favorite Baltimore establishments and send them a little money on Venmo or PayPal. (Restaurant/bar/cafe workers: Submit your info using this form to have it populate that spreadsheet.)

-Bird in Hand: Buy a gift card.

-Clavel: Curbside pickup available every day, noon to 7 p.m. (yes, you can get cocktails too—in quarts).

Golden West Cafe: Curbside pickup and delivery.

-Larder: Takeout (see their social media for specific days/times). “Our menu will change from the usual made-to-order dishes to kits designed for you to take home, heat and assemble, or freeze for a future date.”

-Red Emma’s: Donate to the worker relief fund, a network of co-op businesses including Red Emma’s; buy a gift card; buy books online.

-Sophomore Coffee: Buy a gift card.

Taharka Brothers: Order 8 pints of ice cream online and get it delivered to your door. 

Terra Cafe: Delivery, pickup, and curbside service available.

-Thread Coffee: Order online and get it delivered to your door (free for orders $35 or more; otherwise it’s $3 delivery).

Book Stores

Atomic Books: Email, message, or place orders through the website for pickup or local delivery.

Charm City Books: Free delivery in Baltimore City and $5 if you live outside the city. The delivery will reportedly arrive via tandem bicycle. Order online.

Greedy Reads: Closed to the public; place orders by phone or email. Per their social media, They are “working as fast as we can to get up and running with online shopping. For now, we can give you a walking tour by phone of either store, suggestions for the perfect read, or let you know if we have the particular book you’re looking for.”

Ivy Bookshop: Order online and you can choose to pick up your order at the curb or have your order delivered (free delivery in Baltimore City). 

Normals Books & Records: Order records via Discogs and books via AbeBooks; buy a gift card.

Red Emma’s: Donate to the worker relief fund, a network of co-op businesses including Red Emma’s; buy a gift card; buy books online.

Clothing, Home Goods & Miscellany

-B. Willow: Order online. Pickup outside the Remington shop or get it delivered. Consider adding a gratuity with your purchase to help support staff.

Bottle of Bread: Shop via Etsy. In addition to vintage clothing and accessories, Bottle of Bread sells lots of local jewelry, ceramics, art and more by local artists on consignment—the shop recently featured local makers on Instagram and did not take its usual commission, so 100% of these artists’ sales went right back to the artists. Keep an eye on their Instagram for more of these special features.

Dear Globe: Order coffee and brewing supplies online; pick up at the store.

Get Shredded: Shop via Etsy (prices negotiable); they will deliver or ship or you can pick up from their Charles Village store. 

-Hunting Ground: Shop via Instagram; pickup by appointment

-Keepers Vintage: Shop online via Instagram Live and Facebook. Free shipping.

-Milk & Ice Vintage: Shop online via Etsy or Instagram.

Mount Royal Soap Co.: Shop online; free same-day delivery within Baltimore City (free standard shipping to all Maryland addresses) or pickup at their store window. Liquid soap and growlers are 50% off.

Nubian Hueman: Shop online.

Sugar: Place orders online or over the phone and pickup curbside.

-Wishbone Reserve: Order online via their Instagram; pickup only by appointment; shipping available for small items. Buy gift cards online.

Header image via Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's twitter []

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