From Pandemic to Partnership
When the pandemic shut down the theaters, the museums, the art galleries, the concert halls and the dance studios in the spring of 2020, it opened up a new opportunity for Whatcom County’s arts organizations and venues with the creation of the Whatcom Arts Project.
The idea came up in conversation with CASCADIA Advisory Board member Valerie Dalena as a way that arts organizations, like CASCADIA, could continue and ‘give back’ to the community during COVID to inspire and lift people’s spirits. A small group of local arts organization leaders signed on and the Bellingham Whatcom Arts Tourism Bureau offered to put it under its umbrella to promote, market and help support the project’s joint efforts.
Creating a Cultural Collaboration
In the past 18 months, the Whatcom Arts Project (WAP), as it is known, has brought together more than 30 arts organizations, venues and cultural institutions from throughout Whatcom County. CASCADIA is proud to be among them. Together, they share, coordinate and collaborate on each other’s events through its page on the tourism bureau’s website and its Facebook and Instagram. WAP even printed a handsome 20-page catalog this fall with the group’s individual events that was widely distributed at local venues, hotels and tourist attractions.
Its Facebook page is updated daily with a variety of postings about online arts classes, workshops, performances, films and books. Now that in-person events have started to resume, you can also find current information about what’s happening now. The Whatcom Arts Project Facebook and website page are two of the best sources for people to get complete and overall information about the local arts scene.
And to think, this ‘coming together” was made possible by a pandemic that kept us otherwise ‘socially distanced.’
A Collective for Support
Even as venues begin to re-open, Whatcom Arts Project members meet regularly to exchange ideas, discuss plans, advocate for the arts and to continue to build and strengthen a lively, supportive collaboration.
This month, it launched a new collective fundraiser asking individuals to choose five Whatcom County arts organizations and donate $50 to each for a total donation of $250. This request to support unity and show love to the entire arts community is aptly titled We heART commUNITY. Donating is easy. Click here and choose 5 of the 15 arts organizations listed. Donations will be collected by Allied Arts of Whatcom County and automatically remitted to the arts venues of choice.
Mayor’s Arts Award Nominee
The Whatcom Arts Project is also being nominated for the 2023 Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award for what it’s accomplished so far and for bringing together the area’s cultural arts organizations, venues and institutions under one entity. WAP would welcome your nomination submission as well. Click here to learn more and submit your nomination. Nominations are due by December 31.