On March 13, when I announced the temporary closure of WMA due to COVID-19, I was sure it would be a few weeks until we were back in our building. Instead, we were closed to the public for three months, reopening on June 17. We continue to take necessary safety precautions, for the protection of our staff and visitors, and have adapted almost every aspect of our operations. But one thing has remained – our commitment to serving our community through the arts.
Our response was swift as our staff worked from home to transition programming online, to connect with our partners to respond to their needs, and to provide new ways for artists to share their stories and connect with you. I’m proud of the work that our team did, and the work they continue to do, to make an impact across our region. In the first month of our public reopening, we have adapted the visitor experience by encouraging in-gallery engagement with activities for families and additional content on our free-to-download app. We’re also partnering with organizations around the Wiregrass to provide art supplies and virtual instruction to allow for thousands of students who will benefit from access to high quality art experiences.
We’ve opened new exhibitions and extended others including Telling on Myself: Recent Works by Beverly West Leach and As We Are: Photography by Sean Crutchfield. Both artists are local to the Wiregrass, using their chosen mediums to share their unique perspectives on the places they call home. We’re also launching the newest addition of our biennial exhibition this
quarter, B20: Wiregrass Biennial, which features 38 artists from eleven states. And although the exhibition will be hosted online this year, we have a months-long schedule of artist programming to keep you connected to the art and artists of our time. Sydney Foster, WMA’s artist in residence this summer, will be working to document our community’s people and places through photography. I’m proud to provide a platform for artists to share their personal stories with our community. We can learn a lot from artists and I hope you will take the opportunity to get to know them throughout the summer.
This is also the time each year when I would remind you that Yard Party for Art (YPA) is just around the corner. We made the difficult decision to cancel YPA this year, but are setting up an alternative platform to support musicians and artists during a new three-day, virtual event. Stay tuned for details about House Party for Art!
There is no doubt that like many of you, WMA is in a period of transition. We continue to expand our thinking, and work to generate ideas that will directly support the needs of our community in a post-COVID world. Challenges remain ahead, and we will rise to meet them. That is my commitment to each of you. I am reminded that times of change are opportunities for growth. And we have a unique opportunity to channel our own imaginations, as we ask you to do each time you visit us, to rethink the role of museums, and to support positive social change in the Wiregrass.
All the best,
Executive Director and Curator
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