Young Artists Bring Hope to Portland: Why We Need the Arts
July 6, 2020
Young artists are chipping in to help beautify and buoy downtown Portland. Open Eye Art and Color Outside the Lines are teaming up with local foster children to create art on Southwest 4th Avenue.
Recent protests resulted in damage to a local building. The property is roughly 20,000 square feet and five of the seven tenants are locally-owned businesses. The building’s exterior already needed a boost. But after the protests, the pressure is on. So the brokerage company, Melvin Mark reached out to some unexpected helpers.
Young Artists Paint Messages for the Future
Anna Barlow, director of Color Outside the Lines, emphasized the group’s dedication to both supporting Black Lives Matter and lending a hand to their community. She and other organizers invited children to write about the hopes they have for their community. They penned these wishes on the plywood boards and then painted over them while honoring their spirit. Words like “enlighten” and “listen” appear in the murals. While we all may feel the world is a little dark right now, these kids see a bright future. Looking at their work, it’s not so hard to imagine it for ourselves.
The children finished 16 murals in total. They will stay up for at least nine months but possibly longer. The colorful artwork certainly does help to make the best out of a bad situation. And it also shows the need for the arts, even in an economic crisis such as this one.
The Arts as a Lifeline
Arts Programs can be literal life-savers. Studies show that participation in the arts helps to improve mental health, unify communities, and bolster self-confidence. They also foster social skills, aid academic performance, and more. Whether kids (and adults!) are using these programs as hobbies or a career stepping-stone, they provide huge benefits.
COVID-19 is hitting the arts and entertainment industries harder than most. In-person performances will be among the last businesses to reopen. Though we’ve all been consuming media nonstop for the past few months, arts are considered “nonessential.” The concert industry alone may face as much as $9 billion in losses. Independent contractors and artists employed by local businesses continue to suffer. And Pandemic Unemployment Assistance runs out soon.
Meanwhile, individuals and small businesses are still expected to keep up with rent. They have to buy groceries. If they get sick, they’ll have to cover whatever their insurance won’t pay for. Pursuing the arts in a normal world is difficult. Being an artist in the middle of a pandemic is a new kind of tough, though.
And moments like these show that the arts can remain relevant in these dark times. Moreover, they’re not just relevant–they’re needed. Programs catering to young artists especially deserve a spotlight and a little extra help wherever we can give it. If you’re looking for ways to give, consider donating to one of the organizations listed above. Both Open Eye Art and Color Outside the Lines are giving back to their community, even as they struggle. Let’s return the favor.