Museums and art galleries brace for uncertain future after lockdown

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A recent survey shows one-third of all American museums are at significant risk of closing due to the pandemic-related shutdown.

Many local institutions are hoping to avoid becoming another statistic, but as COVID cases rise, many art directors are bracing for an uncertain future.

Just as local museums and art galleries were beginning to adjust to the ever-changing restrictions brought on by the coronavirus, places such as the Fresno Art Museum and Arte Americas are once again being forced to suspend operations due to the latest stay-at-home order

"We're going to make it through this year and starting off the year okay, but we're concerned like everyone who has a business and whether you're going to make it through the year," said Arte Americas Director Ruth Saludes.

It's been a turbulent year for those in the art world. Arte Americas, like other museums, was able to reopen just before Halloween with capacity limits following seven months of closure.

"On those days that we opened the gallery we normally have 2,000 people show up for that event. It was our "Day of Dead" event but we had 700 show up. It was not a moneymaker, it was just drawing even but we knew that going into it," said Saludes.

The first closure sent financial ripple effects across the entire industry. However, Arte Americas and the Fresno Art Museum were able to pay bills during the shutdown after receiving federal COVID relief funds while the Fresno City Council approved $1.5 million from the CARES Act to provide up to $150,000 for museums, theaters and other local art programs.

But officials with Arte Americas say they're still waiting to receive their cut from the city.

"If we get that money we're hoping to be able to replace our HVAC system which was completely ruined during this closure. Being that the building was closed, it made it a target for people for I guess copper or metal."

The building's HVAC system was completely destroyed and left the gallery with a $350,000 bill to fix it.

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