Charitable Giving

Supporting arts and culture during unprecedented times

Susan Simpson

Like many arts and culture organizations, the Tulsa Air and Space Museum had to close its doors for a time last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, jeopardizing the nonprofit’s very existence.

Tulsa Air and Space Museum

“We’ve lost 85 percent of our income. It’s been very difficult financially and we’ve used all of our reserve funds,” said executive director Tonya Blansett.

She’s hopeful that a recent grant from Williams will help the museum, now open two-days a week, continue to keep the lights on.

“We are still open and extremely blessed because of the kindness of companies like Williams,” she said.

Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations have lost an estimated $14.8 billion in revenue in the past year, according to a study by Americans for the Arts, and 95 percent of artists report a loss of income or work altogether because of the pandemic.

“The artists we are hearing from are talking about eviction and food insecurity,” said John Abodeely, chief executive officer of the Houston Arts Alliance.

He said a grant from Williams to the group’s artist relief fund is making a difference.

“In Houston, we have a $1.1 billion cultural economy. If we can provide artists the ability to pay for food, housing, childcare and health care, we will recover much more quickly.”

In rural central Kansas, the McPherson Opera House is a beacon of arts, culture and history.

McPherson Opera House

Performances came to a grinding halt in March, said executive director Diane Fallis. Live performance venues were among the first to close and will be among the last to reopen.

“Expenses like utility bills, maintenance, and insurance premiums continue,” she said. “The generous COVID relief grant received from Williams will help cover these necessary expenses to ensure that the Opera House fully reopens so it can continue its valuable service as a historically significant community center for cultural, entertainment and educational opportunities.”

Williams also provided grants at the end of 2020 to various other arts and culture organizations, along with donations to first responders, schools for remote learning assistance, food banks and other health and human services nonprofits.

The 53 new grants are part of $1 million in additional community support that Williams pledged last year to address economic, education and public health concerns.