Last Thursday, Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture announced Zumix as one of 146 local arts and cultural organizations to receive grant money as part of the Arts and Culture COVID-19 Fund.
Zumix will share in $815,000 in grant money from the City of Boston’s CARES Act funding. The CARES Act funding was established earlier this summer to support small and mid-sized arts and culture nonprofits in adapting their programs, spaces, and operating models as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Supporting the organizations that bring transformative arts programming to every neighborhood in our city is imperative during this unprecedented time,” said Walsh. “These organizations have put a tremendous amount of effort into making sure Bostonians can still participate in the arts and express themselves creatively, and it’s important that we do what we can to ensure they remain a part of Boston’s arts community in the future.”
For many of Zumix students, the neighborhood’s popular music and performing arts program is a sanctuary of education, joy and support.
However, like many community programs, the COVID-19 pandemic has halted many in-person programs and forced organizations like Zumix to adapt and change how they operate.
Deciding to close Zumix to help encourage social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic was extremely difficult for staff and music teachers. However, Zumix Executive Director Madeleine Steczynski said this has left Zumix with a new goal: “Banding Together While Staying Apart”.
Since closing Zumix program staff and ensemble instructors have connected with their students, and have begun offering classes on-line through Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts. They’re also using ear and rhythm training apps.
“Also, for our youngest students, where a group chat can be challenging, our teachers are running mini one-on-one classes for each student,” said Steczynski. “Our Musical Theater teacher, along with many of our private Adventures in Music teachers are recording tracks for their students to sing and play along to at home.”
The City’s Chief of Arts and Culture Kara Elliott-Ortega said COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the arts and culture sector, particularly performing arts organizations. As organizations and cultural facilities begin reopening, the Arts and Culture COVID-19 Fund aims to mitigate costs for finding new safe spaces for performance and rehearsal, adapting existing facilities to comply with public health standards, developing new capacities in streaming and virtual engagement, addressing issues of equitable access on digital programs, retraining staff, and other costs associated with physically distanced program delivery.
“Providing ongoing support to Boston’s arts organizations is critical during this time,” said Elliott-Ortega. “We hope this will encourage Boston residents to do what they can to make sure these organizations are able to continue providing valuable programming to our communities in the future.”