A screenshot of Northwest Connecticut Arts Council's online shop.
A screenshot of Northwest Connecticut Arts Council's online shop.
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NORTHWEST CORNER — The nonprofit Northwest Connecticut Arts Council has started an online shop featuring the work of over 260 local artists at artsnwct.org/shops.
The shop includes art, apparel, pottery, home decor, jewelry, stationery, and children’s toys by artisans from 24 towns in the Northwest Corner.
Maddie Stenson is the program director for the council and said that supporting local artists is more important than ever during the COVID pandemic.
“Supporting local artists means supporting a thriving arts culture in our community, which enhances the standard of living,” Stenson said. “Every artist is a small business owner. The artists in this area are working hard to adapt and gain a digital presence, especially now when they are unable to hold large events. Many of them have lost income, lost their jobs, or were unable to get unemployment due to being contractors. So many artists work multiple jobs or have a few side hustles to meet their basic living expenses. The pandemic has made this extra complicated and challenging for artists, musicians, theater professionals, artisans, and other creatives. If more people regularly bought from local artists rather than large corporations, imagine how far that could go in supporting not only the artists’ livelihoods but the local economy, too.”
The council has been gathering data about the hardships artists and arts organizations have faced since March.
“The data shows how badly the arts need financial support,” Stenson said. “The arts are typically underfunded during normal times, so they’ve taken the hardest hit from the pandemic. However, as we know artists are innovative and able to be creative with limited resources. Despite all of the hardships, we have seen many taking artists the opportunity to work on establishing their digital presence.”
While the pandemic has hit artists hard, Stenson said that she thinks the arts community can rebound.
“I think the arts are adaptable, and we’ve seen proof of that over the year when everyone dove into the digital realm,” she said. “With technology expanding every day, there will always be lots of room to grow in that respect. Even if we have to continue social distancing for a while, I think arts programming can generally adapt to it through digital media. In the meantime, we need federal support and funding for the venues that are unable to open and the people who are unable to work during the crisis.”
As for the council itself, as tough as the pandemic has been to nonprofit organizations, Stenson said that the council is continuing to advocate for artists and is looking for support.
“The majority of the programs and services we provide are free and open to the public,” she said. “We also advocate for arts and culture on a state and local level. This year, we were the only regional organization positioned to focus entirely on providing resources and funding to artists and employees of cultural organizations in need. Through our Artist Emergency Relief Fund, we raised $6,750 to provide 28 grants to individuals in need of living essentials.”
For more information about the council go to artsnwct.org

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