“Uncharted” is a new interview series created in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re talking to people in the New Mexico arts world and beyond to see how the community is navigating this unprecedented health crisis.
Pauline Kanako Kamiyama,
Director of the Santa Fe Arts and Culture Department
Daisy Geoffrey: What’s your current mood?
Pauline Kanako Kamiyama: Hopeful. In the early stages, we were all adjusting to social distancing and since then, the innovation of programs and the use of online meeting platforms has inspired creative ways to continue providing services to our communities. It is inspiring to see what is being generated and the knowledge being shared.
What is your biggest concern right now?
The projections of the economic impact on our state and city revenues are very real. We are looking cross-departmentally to leverage our resources and come up with new models of providing services. Transitioning practically overnight to an e-government was a task in of itself and while we work out the kinks, we are improving in real-time. Innovation at its best.
What are you working on right now/what is your day-to-day like?
The Culture Connects Coalition Artist Relief Fund is a priority for our team—we are still in fundraising mode to reach our goal of $100,000 to order to assist as many artists as we can. The community has rallied to surpass the initial Challenge Grant of $15,000 from the Lannan Foundation, who has been a gracious partner jumping right in with the $10,000 seed grant. We have had additional challenge grants by private individuals that we are working on to match. We are issuing the applications on a rolling basis, three cycles to allow us time to gather more contributions. The need by our artist community is so great that Cycle 1 application closed two days after it opened with over 150 applicants.
Our team is also working on communication through our social media platforms—sharing virtual programming and activities that our arts and culture organizations are providing, and we are working on public programs online, sharing stories and recipes, inspiration, and topics to keep us connected. This situation has propelled all of us into a new way of doing things and we will leverage that for our recovery as we create what our new normal will be. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. Artists thrive under these conditions as they are doers, problem solvers, visionaries, and inspirational leaders!
The pandemic and prevention of community spread through social distancing has been both a time of innovation and creativity, but also we will come out of this seeking human connection in a deeper way.
What do you hope (or expect) the Santa Fe arts and culture landscape will look like in six months?
We will be rebuilding and testing out new models of engagement and participation. The pandemic and prevention of community spread through social distancing has been both a time of innovation and creativity, but also we will come out of this seeking human connection in a deeper way. It will start more intimately in terms of gatherings and grow in scale. We will see much more collaboration between organizations across the various sectors here in Santa Fe. And it will occur throughout the City along main arteries and neighborhoods.
We are all in very uncharted territory. Are organizations reaching out to you for help determining their best course of action? The International Folk Art Market and Indian Market have been canceled, which were scheduled for mid to late summer—are there guidelines for how arts organizations should plan for the upcoming months, or even the rest of this year?
We started a webinar meeting (Santa Fe Arts and Culture Community – Responses to COVID-19 & Actionable Steps) with our art and culture organizations and stakeholders—we first met on March 18 within the first weeks of the Stay-at-Home order. Since that first meeting, we agreed to meet every other week to keep in touch, share ideas and information. We are in this together and not just arts and culture but our hospitality, restaurant, and retail family. We have concerns about access to resources—funding, health, business loans, etc. The alltogethersantafe.org is a great resource for businesses including sole proprietors/artists to learn about what is available. It is a growing list of resources and it does require some navigating through all the opportunities. Somos is providing information in Spanish to ensure that all reaches of our city has information. This is the new normal, and collaboration and innovation are more than ever the key.
In the Santa Fe New Mexican article announcing the cancelation of the International Folk Art Market, they noted that according to a 2018 study by Southwest Planning & Marketing, IFAM generated $13.7 million in economic impact, and Santa Fe Indian Market generates nearly $50 million for the local economy. How is the City bracing for a summer without these major events that affect the entirety of Santa Fe?
Working with our Tourism Department we know that the biggest question that has to be answered is when restrictions on travel will be lifted or modified. Then we need to determine how much notice we will have as a destination and what resources we will have to market Santa Fe as a place to reconnect and recharge, especially to our visitors from the regional extended drive market (Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas). While the big markets such as IFAM, Spanish Market, and Indian Market are very important to Santa Fe in helping to underscore it being “The City Different,” it is the whole of Santa Fe’s art, culture, cuisine, history, performing arts, and distinctive characteristics that is the true attraction that brings visitors here. New Mexico has done a stellar job of social distancing and quickly implementing a stay at home order which is flattening the curve at a very low level, so Santa Fe will be seen as a safe destination to come to, a one-of-a-kind place to enjoy and a place for immediate relief from the dark days we are currently experiencing. If travel is permitted during the summer and we are allowed to reopen our hotels, restaurants, galleries, stores, and other amenities, Santa Fe will see some tourism rebound in its early stages of economic recovery.
Aside from the Culture Connects Artist Relief Fund, is the city planning any additional relief for the arts industry? Will support be made available for commercial art galleries and other arts organizations who don’t qualify for non-profit support, but are also highly impacted by the pandemic?
With GRT revenue percent shrinking to single digits, the City is facing a ballooning deficit with a nearly unsustainable future. Unfortunately, we can’t print money, so we look to take advantage of the technical assistance and loan offerings from the State agencies and seek to spread the word on all the grant and relief resources available to the arts and other industries that our Federal Government is contributing through the various CARES Act stimulus packages. You can find a complete list of information and resources that benefit the arts industry at our community website: alltogethersantafe.org
Is there anything else you want the arts community to know at this time?
The pain points we experience now we can learn from and catalyze as an opportunity to do things differently, experiment, and evolve. The future is now as we imagine what our recovery and healing can be. All Together Santa Fe. New Mexico Viva!