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On Tuesday, November 16th, Axios NW Arkansas reporters Worth Sparkman and Alex Golden discussed the post-pandemic recovery of the region’s arts and culture industry, featuring Walton Arts Center President & CEO Peter B. Lane and Ra-Ve Cultural Foundation founding President & Executive Director Srividya Venkatasubramanya.

Peter B. Lane touched on the biggest challenges arts venues faced during the pandemic, how the local community supported the arts through that difficult time, and how venues are going about re-opening their operations today.

  • On the challenges venues faced during closures: “We were one of the first industries to shut down, and quite frankly, one of the last to fully resume full operations. Our business is essentially about gathering large groups of people and presenting world class artists from all over the world, so we had to rethink everything.”
  • On community support for the arts during the pandemic: “We also leaned into the opportunity to look at local artists and give them some programming options...the neat thing was over almost 1100 businesses and individuals came together and supported us through that, raising over $1.2 million, which allowed us to basically invest that back into the community. We ended up presenting about 140 different shows over that year-plus time period.”

Srividya Venkatasubramanya highlighted the role of multicultural arts experience in the region, what she hopes to see for the future of arts in NW Arkansas, and how the pandemic affected arts and culture organizations.

  • On learning from other cultures through the arts community: “There are people from all over the world who live here, and I would love to see all those cultures represented in different ways also and interact with them and learn more about this global village.”
  • On moving her organization’s dance programming online during the pandemic: “It felt like we were doing a disservice to the arts. But in this particular situation, obviously it was perhaps the best thing we could do to keep people connected with the arts in some way or the other.”

Axios Chief People Officer Dominique Taylor hosted a View from the Top segment with Crystal Bridges and the Momentary chairperson Olivia Walton, who explained how investing in a creative economy inspires innovation.

  • “I think it’s so important to have art to spark innovation, to spark creative thinking, and also to attract talent. And we think about not just having art siloed, but how can we kind of weave art into the fabric of everyday life and into the business community.”

Thank you NWAC for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Club owners brace for a COVID winter

The Metro in Wrigleyville. Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Chicago music venues are chugging along, booking shows and concerts indoors for the winter. But with a COVID surge hitting, business owners are concerned.

Why it matters: This time last year, venues were shut down. Although federal funding has helped save Chicago stages, this winter will be a critical time.

3 hours ago - Health

Meta removes over 600 accounts linked to COVID disinformation effort by China

Facebook's corporate headquarters campus in Menlo Park, California. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Meta announced Wednesday it has removed over 600 Facebook and Instagram accounts linked to a Chinese influence operation that claimed the U.S. was pressuring the World Health Organization (WHO) to blame COVID on China.

Why it matters: Though Meta said the network was unsuccessful, it marks yet another COVID disinformation campaign instigated by China in an effort to discredit the U.S.

Stacey Abrams launches second campaign for Georgia governor

Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

Stacey Abrams, voting rights activist and former 2018 candidate for Georgia governor, is running for the position again in 2022. Abrams would be the first Black female governor in the country.

Why it matters: Abrams caught national attention in 2018 by narrowly losing an election to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a state held firmly by the GOP for nearly two decades.