Lenin the Dancer

After months of cancellations and closures, the pandemic has devastated San Diego’s creative sector, prompting artists collective Vanguard Culture to call for support for a fund to help.

The San Diego Artist Relief Fund will offer aid to local creative workers left struggling to pay for rent, food or other basic needs due to the coronavirus.

The fund has set a priority for creatives who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and other historically marginalized artists.

Guidelines and applications will be available via the fund page on GoFundMe.com beginning Wednesday. The deadline to apply is Sept. 15.
Lenin, the Starbucks barista whose story went viral after a customer insulted him online, also dances.  A GoFundMe page for him after the confrontation raised more than $100,000.
As an aspiring professional dancer, he now is urging support for fellow artists.
“You all stood up for me and now I’m asking you to please stand with me to provide mutual aid for the well-being and survival of my fellow artists,” he said in a YouTube video for the fund.
According to the relief fund’s campaign, artists will receive one-time grants of $1,000.
“Our support sends a message of solidarity to our artists and contributes to the cultural resiliency of our region,” the organizers wrote.

They also said they modeled the campaign on others in the country – the Seattle Artist Relief Fund and the Brooklyn Museum Mutual Aid Fund.

According to a University of San Diego survey of non-profits, 92% of arts organizations lost revenues gleaned from fees for services, such as tickets, since the beginning of the pandemic. Two-thirds also saw their donations drop.
Local performers like Lenin typically bolster their incomes by working in jobs outside the arts. As their work isn’t a 9-to-5, it also can be sporadic.
According to San Francisco Chronicle, the Actors Equity Association compiled figures on how much work performers found in a year. The results ranged from about four weeks to 17 weeks, depending on the city.
One artist told the publication, “I am a professional theater maker — something I’ve worked at for nearly 30 years … and I am finally making a generally consistent $15 per hour.”
Susanna Peredo Swap, Vanguard’s founder and executive director, noted that many artists are still trying to offer the community arts despite limitations forced upon them by the pandemic.
“The arts community has showed up for us to provide cultural programming during the pandemic and we are very grateful,” she wrote. “Now is the time to show up for them.”
– Staff reports