Art Groups Find New Ways to Reach Audiences

June 5, 2020Sidney Levesque, Marketing Director for the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council

Artists and art institutions all over the nation are struggling due to the economic fallout of the COVID pandemic.

Across the country, nonprofit art and cultural institutions have lost $5.5 billion as of May 18, according to Americans for the Arts. Here in Abilene, art groups were forced to cancel performances and temporarily shut their doors to the public this spring.

Despite these challenges, art groups have continued to create and share with the community. Abilene art groups have broadcast live art classes, book readings and crafts for children. Museums have shared free online tours of their exhibitions and even taken you into the homes of their staff to learn more about their personal collections.

Things are looking up this summer as COVID-19 cases are down, and downtown museums and venues are reopening, although things might look a little different inside with capacity restrictions and social distancing procedures.

In April, the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council and the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature made the decision to postpone this year’s Children’s Art & Literacy Festival and corresponding Loren Long exhibition to June 2021. Although the festival will not take place in person this year, they still want to celebrate art and reading with the public this weekend.

Virtual CALF: 2012-2019 A Look Back” will take place over the same three-day weekend that the festival would have taken place this summer, June 11-13.

Tune into the CALF Facebook page for a look back at CALF festivals starting with our very first one in 2012 celebrating Dr. Seuss. Virtual CALF will feature photos, videos, book readings, art activities, a chance to earn prizes and a sneak peek at the CALF retrospective exhibit the NCCIL is mounting titled “Encore: A Look Back” that opens June 11. Plus, tune into see surprise guests! The Grace Museum and the Abilene Public Library are contributing content to Virtual CALF by recording art activities related to the

The festival is a beloved summer tradition in downtown Abilene, the Storybook Capital of America. Last year’s festival attracted more than 5,200 people from 191 Texas cities and 12 states. The festival creates a positive economic impact with more than 100 room nights generated and thousands spent on food, gas and retail items over the three-day period. Part of the ACAC’s mission is to use the arts to generate tourism in Abilene and to establish the city as a center for the arts.

Each year, the festival celebrates the work of the summer artist on exhibit at the NCCIL. Nearly 20 downtown venues normally participate. Because this year’s regular festival activities have been postponed, the ACAC will be promoting “The Year of Loren Long” over the next 12 months.


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