Keeping Our Teaching Artists Employed

…a message from Kim Jubenville, WhyArts Executive Director

If you’re familiar with WhyArts, you know we’re dedicated to providing Omaha’s underserved groups with quality arts experiences. What you might not be familiar with is exactly how we do that, which is the subject of this message.

We employ more than 40 local professional artists from a variety of disciplines to bring diverse arts experiences to those we serve. We connect with those we serve via our partnerships with local schools and other local nonprofits.

The COVID-19 health crisis has shuttered schools and is wreaking havoc within our nonprofit community. Many local nonprofits are struggling with how to stay open, so hiring WhyArts on a fee-for-service basis just isn’t possible now. This means our entire client base is either closed or in major flux.

For the majority of our teaching artists, their WhyArts income is how they pay their rent, buy their groceries and handle their other bills. This income has evaporated, not just for a week or two, but for the foreseeable future.

Our funders have given us the flexibility to use their grant dollars to help cover the lost wages of our artists who’d be teaching in schools and after-school settings for the rest of the semester. We’d like to give huge virtual hugs and elbow bumps to the following organizations for their support and generosity:

  • Sherwood Foundation
  • Collective For Youth
  • Peter Kiewit Foundation
  • Lincoln Financial Foundation
  • Omaha Community Foundation
  • Snow Redfern Foundation
  • Nebraska Arts Council
  • Nebraska Humanities Council

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to cover everyone.

WhyArts is committed to ensuring that all of our teaching artists receive at least 75% of their lost wages as the COVID-19 health crisis continues. You can help us meet this commitment by considering a donation to our newly created Artist Fund.

Every dollar you donate to this fund will help our teaching artists receive at least 75% of their lost wages. You can donate in one of two ways:

  • Via PayPal or credit card (select the donate to Artist Fund option)
  • Via check to WhyArts, c/o Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center at UNO, 6001 Dodge Street, Omaha, NE 68182 (put “Artist Fund” on the memo line)

Thanks so much for your time, generosity and consideration.

– Kim