The biggest priority for ART 180 leaders since stay-at-home orders in Virginia has been to keep seven staff members employed, along with teaching artists who lead its programs. A Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan with VCC is covering payroll and medical insurance for 10 weeks.
Maintaining six full-time and one part-time employees during this pandemic allows ART 180 to find creative ways for fulfilling its mission: giving youths living in challenging circumstances the chance to express themselves through art. In April, ART 180 met virtually with teen leaders for the first time since the crisis began, and new programs are launching, including with community partners, according to Marlene Paul, co-founder and executive director.
Coming to VCC meant leaning into its existing banking relationship right in town — at a bank where it already had a deposit. For ART 180, the process started with an email to VCC and some simple guidance on submitting the application; the loan arrived two days later.
“We are adapting, and trying to be present, patient, accept that things are very different and may always be different. Of course, there are plenty of challenges – some expected and some not – and part of our evolution is in facing them,” Paul says. “It’s not unlike what our young people go through, and we’re seeing a lot of parallels between our experience as an organization trying to survive a pandemic and their experience navigating everyday challenges. The theme of resilience has been coming up a lot.”