COVID-19 and the arts in Wisconsin

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​While we are not health professionals here at the Wisconsin Arts Board, we are fortunate to have a strong team of health professionals at the WI Department of Health Services (DHS).  Their webpage on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) contains the latest information on the disease and what we can do to stop its progress.

Scroll down on this page to find: 

Direction from Governor Evers

Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans - Recent News (April 3 is the day for nonprofits to apply! April 10 for artists!)

Emergency Funds for Artists, Creative Entrepreneurs, and Arts Organizations 

Arts-Specific Resources for Arts Organizations and Their Constituents
     Webinars:  Upcoming and Archived

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation's Guide for Main Street and other Businesses Navigating COVID-19

Excerpts from the Wisconsin Arts News related to COVID-19 and the arts

Creative Responses from WI's Creative Sector! 

WI's Arts Organizations Alert Their Audiences, Patrons, and Public

Resources for Staying Connected

If Your WAB-Funded Project Happens During COVID-19 Time

Working Together on a Community Level


Gov. Evers Directs WI's Department of Health Services to Issue a Safer At Home Order

On March 24, Governor Tony Evers directed DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to issue a Safter at Home order that prohibits all nonessential travel, with some excetions as clarified and defined in the order.  The order is available here.  The order became effective at 8 am on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 and will remain in effect until 8 am on Friday, April 24, 2020, or until a superseding order is issued​.

Gov. Evers Directs WI's Department of Health Services to Prohibit Mass Gatherings of 10 People or More

Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm ordered a statewide moratorium on mass gatherings of 10 people or more to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, effective at 5:00pm on Tuesday, March 17th. This order applies to all public and private mass gatherings.  Read more.

Gov. Evers: Declares public health emergency due to COVID-19

On March 12, Governor Tony Evers declared a public health emergency in response to new cases of COVID-19, directing the Department of Health Services (DHS) to use all the resources necessary to respond to and contain the outbreak.  One of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recommendations is “… that all non-essential gatherings of 250 or more people be cancelled or postponed statewide to help protect Wisconsinites from the spread of COVID-19, particularly those who are most vulnerable to infection and severe disease."  At this point, it is a recommendation. Read more.


Applications are now being accepted for the many forms of relief associated with the historic $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) that was signed into law on March 27, 2020 and other federal relief programs.


Important (and urgent) advice from our colleagues at the Association of Performing Arts Professionals and at 20 Degrees:

  • Small businesses and sole proprietorships can begin applying for loans on April 3, 2020. 
  • Independent contractors and those who are self-employed can begin applying on April 10, 2020.
  • Talk to a lender who already knows you. They need to be approved to do 7a loans in order to process this loan. Here is a list of the top most active 100 SBA lenders. As you are applying for these new loans, be sure to read current loan documents and keep in touch with current lenders. 


Artists/Creative Entrepreneurs/Individual Arts Administrators: ​​

  • ​Actors Fund is going beyond actors now.

  • Arts Administrators of Color Network set up a GoFundMe campaign for BIPOC artists and administrators.

  • WomenArts has a fund roundup on their website.

  • Dramatists Guild Foundation launches relief fund supporting individual playwrights, com posers, lyricists, and bookwriters.

  • EqualSound launches relief fund supporting musicians who have lost gigs due to the pendemic.

  • Springboard for the Arts has several resources and relief funds.

  • Rauschenberg announced an Medical Emergency grant program for artists.

  • Musicians Foundation is accepting aid applications.

  • CERF+ Artist Safety Net​ offers emergency resources to established artists working in a craft discipline.

  • Small Business 20/20​ - support for small businesses and micro-enterprises adversely economically impacted by the COVID-19 Virus.​

  • MusiCares Relief Fund​ offers basic living assistance (rent or mortgage) for music industry professionals. 

  • Stratera offers an Emergency Response Directory​.

  • CovertKit launches the Creator Fund​ to assist ​with medical ​expenses, groceries, childcare, and rent or mortgage​​ for active creators​.

  • The Soze Foundation launches the Artist + Activist Relief Fund​.​

  • The New Music Solidarity Fund​ helps new/creative/improvised music freelancers whose livelihood has been threatened as a result of performances which have been canceled.

Arts Organizations:

  • Several funds are "in development" and we will post them as soon as they come online.

​​*Check back often - this dynamic situation is changing every day.​


To help with all of this, we have compiled (in our daily Arts News​ service since January, and now here), the following list of resources.


        EmcArts "ARTS FWD" - virtual office hours, online workshops, weekly articles, free resources

        Film and Media Artists: State-specific and national resources, gathered by Southern Documentary Fund.​  

        Creative Capital (art resources including "late-breaking" grant opportunities; online workshops for artists and creatives, etc.)​​

        American Alliance of Museums

        Resources for Preparing for the Potential Impact of the Coronavirus

        League of American Orchestras

        Preparing for the Impact of the Coronavirus
        Theatre Communications Group

        Theatres Stay Open but Make Backup Plans Amid COVID-19 Concerns
        American Theatre

Americans for the Arts

        Arts and Culture Sector Can Prepare for the Coronavirus in the United States
        ARTS Blog | Americans for the Arts

        A Huge Mistake Nonprofits Make in Preparing for COVID-19
        NonProfit Pro

        Sample Emergency Plans
        Performing Arts Readiness

               Also​ Emergency and Safety Procedures
               Performing Arts Readiness​

The National Coalition for Arts Preparedness and Emergency Response
Arts Midwest​
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Eau Claire Community Foundation

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates
Institute of Museum and Library Services

Association of Midwest Museums



​Wisconsin Arts Board and Arts Wisconsin's weekly Listening Sessions every Friday at 9:00 am.

​Wisconsin Arts Board and Arts Wisconsin Resource Session: Wisconsin Creative Care: mobilizing the arts for older adults in the era of COVID19, with Anne Basting, Milwaukee-based Director of Timeslips and MacArthur Fellow​ - April 8, 10:00 am - 11:00 am

The CARES Act Becomes Law: What It Means for Media Artists and the Entertainment Industry​, presented by the Raben Impact Entertainment, Tuesday, April 7, 12:30 pm

Americans for the Arts will present a webinar on navigating the arts relief funding:  Tuesday, April 8, time TBD.


Your Orchestra and COVID-19 Federal Relief - Wednesday, April 8, Noon 

Managing Stress from Home, presented by LYRASIS and the Performing Arts Readiness Project: April 8  (THIS WEBINAR IS AT CAPACITY. It will be recorded and posted on April 9.)

 Crisis Engagement: 12 Tasks to Sustain Donors in Turbulent Times, presented by the Performing Arts Readiness Project, ArtsReady and NCAPER:  April 16, Noon


Three-Part Series Innovation in the Face of Adversity, presented by the American Craft Forum.
Part I: Friday, April 3 (recording will be available soon)

Part 2: Friday, April 10, 2 pm

Part 3: Friday, April 17, 2 pm 

The N​ational Guild for Community Arts Eduction's online conversation series and workshops - schedule available here​​


"COVID-19 Recovery for Community Theatres" - AACT/Hytropy Reverse Disaster, March 31 (recording)

"Artists In a Time of Global Pandemic" (ASL & Captioned) - Monday, March 16

"COVID-19 and Your Nonprofit: Crisis Comms, Fundraising and Event Considerations for Challenging Times​" - Tuesday, March 17
(access the webinar here​)

"We Are Stronger Together: Navigating Crises & Sustaining Healthy Relationships in the Era of Coronavirus" - Wed., March 18
(read the transcript here​; recording coming soon)

"Arts and Culture Sector and the Coronavirus: What we Know and How to Move Forward" - Thursday, March 19
(recording available soon)

"Networking for Disaster Management in the Performing Arts" - Performing Arts Readiness - March 24 at 1pm CST
(access the webinar here)​

"Coronavirus And Your Message To Donors" - Wednesday, March 25 
(recording available soon)

"Crisis Communication and Reputation Management for Performing Arts Organizations" - Performing Arts Readiness - March 25 at 1pm CST
(access the webinar here)

"How to Plan a Virtu​al Event​" -​ Vimeo - March 26 at 1pm CST (recording available soon)


(​​Click on the header above to access the Guide.)


(​​Click on the header above to access those excerpts.)



- Kanopy Dance creates new video for supporters.​


- From the Little Writing Room over the Garage, Author Michael Perry reads​ daily.

- WI Poet Laureate Alumnus, Max Garland, shares a poem​


- Door Community Auditorium created a Spring Training​ program - an online series of virtual and live-streamed programs and prompts shared by the DCA and Door County Friends!  ​

- The Oshkosh Grand Opera House “At Home" posts some great arts content

- Lynden Sculpture Garden launches site with Virtual Tours/Education Materials​


- Janesville Performing Arts Center's “Home movie" submission request for a “AT HOME- FILM FESTIVAL". Encouraging submissions from all areas of the state.


- Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society shares its Tiny Desk Concerts​ every Tuesday and Thursday at noon.

- Milwaukee Symphony invites us to stream an audio recording, recorded live in an empty Uihlein Hall on 3/14. As President & Executive Director Mark Niehaus and Music Director Ken-David Masur remarked, music is a balm we can turn to in times of uncertainty, and we hope it brings you comfort and relief​.​​


Visual Arts and Crafts:

- The Racine Art Museum has created an online scavenger hunt, and other ways for people to enjoy, explore, and engage with art from home. 

- Peninsula School of Art offers several new virtual initiatives:
  • Fridays on social media, we will post a family and kid-friendly art project with all of the instructions needed to complete the project. For local families, we will create a free "art-kit" with instructions and all necessary supplies to complete the project. Kits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the PenArt entrance beginning at 10am on Fridays for drive-by pick up. We hope everyone will share their completed project online.
  • For aspiring artists, we are launching a weekly "Creative Challenge" - a prompt or exercise to help you keep creating. Challenges will be posted on social media on Thursdays, and again, we hope everyone will share their results online.
  • On Tuesdays, we'll be sharing virtual gallery tours, demonstrations, and videos for art appreciators (or e-learners); and 
  • Mondays will be devoted to beginners and those curious about getting started in art-making. We'll try to demystify basic art terms, tools and principles.​

- The Trout Museum of Art launches "Made to Order​," a match-making program for art buyers and artists.​

Bonus:  Fun Resources from Elsewhere

- The Kennedy Center LUNCH DOODLES​:  Mo Willems invites YOU into his studio every day for his LUNCH DOODLE. 


Click on the header to find a sampling of the messages (via email and website) that WI's arts organizations have begun to send to their patrons, partners, audience members, and community stakeholders.  We provide these as a way of helping others to shape a response to this public health issue, not to endorse any specific action.

For those who have not yet communicated with your partners, patrons, audience members, and community stakeholders, here are a couple of sample templates that have come our way.  We share them for your consideration, without recommending either course.   ​Sample Templates​​


(​​Click on the header above to access a compilation of tech/teaching resouces, and classes and live events.)


If you have a WAB grant to support a program or event taking place during this time of increased concern, we will allow you to postpone and reschedule, and will if necessary extend the grant project period. Be sure to contact WAB staff via email to alert us to the changes.​


We encourage communities to work together to organize a community response meeting to share knowledge and identify gaps. Consider inviting health officials and support services.​

Stay informed! Assign a person on your staff or board to keep an eye on the latest developments and news. They can sign up for the Centers for Disease Control's email updates here and for the World Health Organization's email updates here.

Stay inspired! Explore the section above entitled "Creative Responses from WI's Creative Sector!"  Check out and share articles with ideas for actions we can take.  Here are some:

        Stopping Coronavirus From Infecting the Culture of Our Community

        Connect people with assistance in finding food/paying housing bills/accessing essential services

As we continue to watch and prepare for the coming weeks, we will be tracking local response and welcome your questions – as will our partner in the priva​te sector, Arts Wisconsin. During times like this, we must act in concert with one another and support each other locally, statewide, and nationally.

Please be safe, protect yourself and those you interact with, and be healthy. Most importantly, thank you, as always, for all the extraordinary things you do eve​ry day.

​​- The Board and Staff of the Wisconsin Arts Board​, Updated 4/6/2020​