Commentary: Artists in isolation and how to support them

  |  Source: JesseJoyner.com

Jesse Joyner is a juggler and entertainer who has performed at Christian venues around the United States.

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From online concerts to midday doodling workshops, artists around the world are getting creative with ways to continue offering their gifts to society in a time when the curtains are forced to close.

Artists are, of course, labeled “nonessential” in a time like this. After all, drawing or singing or juggling won’t heal coronavirus. So, we—I happen to be a juggler—support and applaud all the “essential” vocations out there.

This is an important time when the rest of us need to go into hiding while the medical staff, first responders and other essentials do their good work to help those who need them most.



The rest of us in our hiding holes, though, have found ourselves in a unique time in history when many of us around the world have the technology to continue connecting with one another. And it has been remarkable to see how the artists are coping so far.

How artists are responding to the pandemic

Artists are stewarding their talents for benefits and fundraising for a whole variety of worthy causes that help fight the fight against COVID-19.

Artists also are providing healing for the souls and sanity of the people of the world. Just a few nights ago, a small band of musicians socially distanced themselves from one another on a street corner in my neighborhood and serenaded the small units of passing humans out for their evening exercise walk.



Most importantly, many artists simply are doing whatever they can right now to keep doing their art. Why? Because it is in us.

For many of us, serving the good of society through our varied forms of art is a calling we feel has been placed upon us. You cannot make us stop loving our art and loving the world through it.

If the government shuts down our ability to perform at live events, we will juggle or play the piano or walk on a tightrope all alone in our homes with a small device recording us so we can post it for you to see. In fact, we still do it even when none of you are watching. But we want you to see because it is our gift to you. And we hope it brings joy, laughter, distraction, sanity and healing to your soul.


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How you can respond to artists

Here is where I ask for your help on behalf of the artists of the world.

I have had a number of friends approach me and ask how they can help, knowing artists and jugglers like me are getting a “time out” from our usual live shows and streams of income. Here are some answers to that question. Some of them don’t even involve money, because it’s really not about the money.

First, however, there are others with much greater needs, like the people and their families who are dying and suffering from this pandemic. We all need to help them first. Then, there are the first responders, who need all the support they can get right now, part of which comes in the form of the rest of us staying cooped up for a while.



While we support these people, let us not forget about the artists and the other “nonessentials.” We have families to feed and water bills to pay. For many of us, our flow of income has dropped significantly or vanished altogether. And we want to keep doing what we do in service to the world, both now and when things get back to some normalcy.

Here are five ways you can help your local artists during the coronavirus crisis.

Words of encouragement. The greatest gift my friends have given me during this time is reaching out and saying: “Thinking of you. How are you doing?” Artists are humans, too. We need the same touch everyone needs—to know we are loved and our work still matters in this world.



Sign up for our online classes. Many of us are teaching our art online or otherwise putting our art out there in the virtual universe for the love of art. We want to share what we do and teach others the joy of our art. This is a special time when many people want to take up a hobby they’ve always put aside. We’re ready for you. Sign up for our classes, whether free or paid.

Watch our art, and tell us what it means to you, and why. We don’t get to have art shows or live in-person audiences right now. Those are the times we hear from you and interact with you about what we made for you. Watch our online programs, and send us messages and comments about your experience with our art. If you really liked what you saw, throw some money in the virtual payment service hat. We’d be happy to give you our email address.

Purchase vouchers for future shows. This makes you a “patron saint.” We will personally ask the pope to add you to the list—via email, of course. We don’t really want a handout of cash, though I’ve never met an artist who would turn cash down, myself included.

We will be able to do our show for you someday; so, please give us the gift of your support and your trust by buying full show vouchers or gift certificates towards the partial cost of a show for a future date.

We lost our shows for half of March, all of April, all of May and who knows how much longer. Call us, and we can talk about the details. This is more than a gift of money. You are giving us the gift of the dignity to serve you when the time comes.

Buy our merchandise. Many of us sell “merch,” whether it be music albums, postcards or juggling props. The supply chains are still open. Support your local artist by scooping up some swag and early Christmas gifts. Most of us can sell over the internet with ease.

Your help is a gift to artists. If you patronize the arts now, you will be rewarded when the time comes for us all to gather in large groups once again. Because you know who you’re going to call to help entertain those celebratory crowds? The artists. We’re waiting in the wings. And we can’t wait to see you in person again.

Jesse Joyner is a professional entertainer who communicates the gospel of Jesus Christ through comedy, juggling, unicycling, balancing and audience participation. He performs at camps and churches, as well as numerous other venues throughout the United States. Visit his website to book him for a future event. The views expressed are those solely of the author.


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