Physical, Psychological, Emotional

Artists Archives of the Western Reserve Executive Director Mindy Tousley, with Marketing and Program Manager Megan Alvesand Collections Registrar Kelly Pontoni

Like everyone, everywhere, we are dealing with the coronavirus on a multitude of levels: physical, psychological, and emotional. The landscape we all navigate at this time is a shifting balance of forced separation and the need for human contact.

Speaking for myself, as an artist who enjoys creating in solitude, but is also accustomed to job-related social interactions, this balancing act is not as easy as I thought it would be. There are daily pitfalls connected to working at home: communicating with staff, board members and committees through internet services, rearranging preplanned exhibition and programming schedules, bombardment of helpful webinars, troubleshooting internet access, generally keeping the wheels turning and all of the balls in the air.

It requires a real team effort between good leadership, inventive staff, an engaged board, and supportive members to weather this particular storm of disaster. Together we have strategically refocused our efforts on our mission to support Northeast Ohio artists, particularly our archived artists and our member artists, through creative engagement of the community via eblasts, social media, the AAWR website, and platforms like Zoom.

I think our small size has been an advantage as we can respond with flexible solutions and fast implementation. A virtual tour of the 2020 Annual Members Exhibition, currently hanging unseen in the gallery, was created in the 24 hours between the mandate and the time we shut down. A Facebook Watch Party replaced the opening reception, and this plus a combination of all of the above has been used for promotion, driving sales through our website. We have rescheduled future exhibitions and programming and moved our emphasis into utilizing regional talent for lectures, rather than past practices of relying on presenters from out of state.

The Archives has an endowment which gives it some financial stability in these uncertain times. Our policy since 2015 has been to offer workshops, lectures, and other educational programming for free, so unlike other organizations, we are not missing the income from these fees. To date the AAWR has not experienced employee lay-offs, but we are planning on taking advantage of some of the CARES Act’s options to ensure that this remains the case.

Strange times indeed, but I believe I can safely state that the Archives will stand firm for the future.


1834 East 123rd Street

Cleveland, Ohio 44106