The Show Must Go On:  (Op-ed by Greg Hartz)

The Show Must Go On: Supporting the Arts as We Turn the Corner on COVID-19

An Op-ed by Greg Hartz published on June 22, 2021 by the Ithaca Times.

Before the onset of the pandemic, arts and cultural organizations in the Greater Ithaca area were thriving, offering performances, shows, and cultural events that brought our community together in ways that truly united us all as one. It was just two summers ago that performers, artists, local officials, business leaders, and members of the community came together as we do best to enjoy all that our city and county’s cultural organizations have to offer. Let’s get back to that feeling and sense of community, as we work to turn the corner on COVID-19 this summer. 

Americans for the Arts surveyed various organizations in the arts and culture sector, and determined that in Tompkins County alone, almost $2,000,000 in financial losses were expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a devastating blow that our friends and partners simply cannot endure. While government programs are helping, it is up to people like you and me to step in and remind each other how much the arts mean to each and everyone one of us, through both attendance and financial support.  

While many of these statistics are troubling, it is worth noting that in the same survey, many organizations in the County felt confident that their institution would survive the economic fallout of the pandemic. This is because of the resilience and support of the community we all know and love. Groups such as Community Arts Partnership, Hangar Theater, Kitchen Theatre, Cherry Arts Space, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers, Running to Places Theatre, State Theater, and Triphammer Arts (to name just a few) know they can count on your support when they need you most.  

It is crucial we remember that arts and cultural organizations don’t just exist to simply entertain. For generations, the arts have served as catalysts for important conversations, inspiring communities to move towards various levels of progression. They help connect people with their own cultures, as well with others they want to learn more about. Bringing people together through arts and culture documents and preserves our local history, while essentially making Tompkins County and beyond a better place to both live and work. 

For the upcoming season, one of the ways we’re looking forward to bringing people together is by enjoying the Hangar Theatre’s Summer 2021 Mainstage Outdoors, a newly-built outdoor stage located on the grounds of their property. This innovative outdoor space gives the community a safe and enjoyable venue to enjoy all that our friends at Hangar have to offer. We are confident it will be a massive success, and we’re so proud to be a part of it. 

Our friends and partners in the arts sector are invaluable to the well-being of our communities, as they often inspire us to move towards positive change by creatively telling stories and sparking important conversations. We encourage you to reconnect with the organizations you know and love. For the past 15 months, we were very fortunate to enjoy virtual performances by our dedicated performing arts professionals while remaining in our homes; but most of us agree there is no match for enjoying live and in-person performances. Thank you to the Ithaca community for helping the show go on – we cannot do it without you. 

Greg Hartz is president & CEO of Tompkins Trust Company, headquartered in Downtown Ithaca. 

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