The Kodiak Arts Council has canceled its summer classes and postponed the planning of its upcoming programming due to restrictions of large gatherings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The organization's summer programming typically attracts about 300 students and consists of 30 art classes, from printmaking to tie-dying and scientific illustrations. 

“This is the time of the year we would be planning the summer program, recruiting teachers for that program and building the suite of arts classes that we offer in June, July and August,” said Katie Oliver, the executive director of the Kodiak Arts Council. 

The council also canceled the Eileen Ivers concert that had been scheduled for March 28, which was the last show of this year’s Performing Arts Series, and has postponed planning for the upcoming series, originally slated to begin in September. 

“We have preliminary agreements in place with multiple artists for the 2020-2021 season, but are now in a holding pattern and not signing contracts,” Oliver said. “It’s difficult to move forward with that work. There’s the question of travel and there is the larger question of when will people feel comfortable gathering in large spaces again.”

Additionally, the organization has also postponed their annual fundraising event, originally scheduled for April 25. 

“It was a difficult but necessary decision,” she said.

Although a future date has not been scheduled, Oliver noted that the council is considering organizing an online fundraiser. 

But an online would eliminate the “best part” of the annual event, which is “people gathering in one space and celebrating the arts,” Oliver said. 

With the cancellation of programs, loss of ticket sales and tuition, and the postponement of the fundraiser, the Kodiak Arts Council is looking at about a $40,000 loss. 

For the near future, the staff is trying to anticipate the different scenarios that could occur, but is waiting to see how the pandemic progresses before making concrete plans. 

“It’s possible to do scenario planning and reevaluate. It seems unlikely that there will be June programming,” Oliver said.  

The council’s staff is taking this pause to evaluate the organization's online presence. They are also curating content, and turning to local teaching artists to develop lesson plans that can be helpful for families. While most of the current curriculum is designed for classroom use, the new lesson plans will be ideal for home activities. 

Despite the revenue loss and cancellations, Oliver remains optimistic.  

“Our staff are working remotely and have been since March 16. We are a financially healthy organization. We have cash reserves,” she said. “Certainly this was unpredicted and unprecedented, but we will weather this.”

Like other nonprofits, the organization is eligible for assistance through the Small Business Administration loan program and is looking into its options, she said.

Oliver noted that the community has been turning to the arts to feel connected while socially isolating. 

“It’s wonderful to see how people have turned to artistic expression to spark joy and lift spirits,” she said.  

One activity that has been created in light of this pandemic is the “Kodiak Strong” Poster Design Contest. Sponsored by the City of Kodiak and Kodiak Island Borough, the contest for school-age students highlights themes relating to community’s response to COVID-19. 

The deadline for the competition is April 10. As of Thursday, the competition had 20 entries, but Oliver expects more entries to be submitted on the deadline. 

 Kodiak City Mayor Pat Branson and Borough Mayor Bill Roberts, plus a committee of their designees, will select an overall grand prize winner, who will earn a cash prize of $150, and three winning posters for cash prizes: $100 for first place, $50 for second place and $25 for third place. 

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