As theaters went dark and museums closed their doors for public safety, the economic hit has been particularly hard on the Tulsa arts community.

The city’s decision to shift temporarily its mission of a Vision package-funded grant program makes sense in this crisis.

Recently, 29 Tulsa nonprofit arts organizations received awards from $5,000 to $20,000, depending on their size. For many, this funding is critical in recovering from the ongoing economic emergency.

Voters approved $2.25 million over 15 years — or $150,000 annually — to support arts groups and individual artists as part of the 2016 Vision Tulsa sales tax package. Funding became available in 2018, but the application and scoring process was not yet ready.

The intent was to provide money for projects that encourage and expand economic development. But the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the economy in March, putting artists and arts organizations into survival mode.

These groups lost funding from canceled performances and shuttered operating hours. Making matters worse were calling off annual spring and summer fundraisers, a loss of up to 60% for some nonprofits.

Tulsa boasts an impressive reputation for its museums, community theaters, youth arts opportunities and professional ballet, symphony and opera companies.

These artists and institutions improve Tulsa’s quality of life and make the city a destination.

The Tulsa Arts Commission, which manages the city’s arts grants, switched gears to create the Vision Arts Resiliency and Recovery program to assist groups experiencing financial setbacks from the COVID-19 outbreak.

City Council Phil Lakin, who led the effort to include arts in the Vision package, applauded the change.

“I am happy that the council and the mayor and the (city) Arts Commission came together to create a very unique way of distributing funds during a very difficult financial crisis for arts organizations and artists,” Lakin told Tulsa World reporter Kevin Canfield.

We agree and support efforts to bolster the arts during this trying time.

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