You gotta have arts

In a moment of crisis, the arts once more rise to the occasion as plans for ArtsWestchester’s virtual Nov. 21 gala illustrate.

When the going gets tough, performing artists and arts advocates like Wynton Marsalis get going. Despite the pandemic and losing his own father, jazz pianist-educator Ellis Marsalis Jr., to Covid-19, Marsalis –trumpeter extraordinaire, composer and managing and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center – has been a vibrant presence in WAG country this year at MoCA Westport and now ArtsWestchester.

Marsalis – who recently appeared in a delightful PBS program that paired two New York City treasures, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the cast of “Sesame Street” – will perform at ArtsW’s virtual gala Nov. 21, 6 to 7 p.m., and deliver a special message in support of the arts.

 “This moment of crisis has put the life-affirming value of the arts into sharper focus,” Marsalis said in a statement. “Art has always been an indispensable tool of survival, teaching us about our history, helping us to process turmoil and grief and delivering serious meaning with joy. Let’s face this challenge by challenging ourselves and choosing to rise to the occasion.”

Nationally, the coronavirus has dealt an estimated total economic blow of $14 billion to America’s arts and cultural sector since mid-March. In Westchester County, the arts have also been devastated. ArtsWestchester, the county’s largest funder of the arts, is appealing to the community to help keep the arts alive at this unprecedented time.

“Though the arts community has been incredible in pivoting to virtual arts education, streaming concerts and producing online exhibitions, the toll on its revenue streams has been staggering,” ArtsWestchester CEO Janet T. Langsam said in a statement. “While Entergy’s legacy of support has been extraordinary, its impending exit from the county poses a formidable challenge to the arts and cultural community.”

Entergy will be honored with ArtsW’s 2020 Corporate Award for its longtime support of the arts in the county. The other honorees are Deputy County Executive Kenneth Jenkins; Kenneth J. Plunkett, director of strategic initiatives at Simone Development Cos.; and Jeffrey P. Haydon, president/CEO at Ravinia Festival (and former CEO of Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah).

“There are many ways that people can help right now,” Langsam said. “Bid on our online gala auction, sponsor an arts scholarship, support an artist, make a donation or simply buy a journal ad to celebrate the outstanding 2020 gala honorees. It all helps the arts survive in your hometown. This year, we’re not asking people to sponsor gala tables. We’re asking them to support a community arts program like an artist residency in the community, an art exhibition, a public art mural or a teen scholarship. These programs will help keep the arts alive in our neighborhoods, in our cities and our county.”

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