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Stopping Coronavirus From Infecting the Culture of Our Community

how to help local businesses and workers affected by unprecedented cancellations and temporary closures

Nick Meyer

Mona Lisa's on Water Street (Image: VisitEauClaire.com)
Mona Lisa's on Water Street, Eau Claire (Image: VisitEauClaire.com)

Like many of you, we’ve watched in awe as unprecedented bad news, cancellations, and closures have taken place over the last several days. As the precautions taken against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic stacked up, it started to become clear just how bad this could be – not only around the country, but right here in our own little community. Public health is of course the chief concern, and hopefully these actions will do their part to “flatten the curve” in our area and the state. But the dramatic reaction and upheaval is clearly difficult for thousands of local families and individuals struggling to make everything work, and for the hundreds of businesses and their employees negatively impacted, including those of us at Volume One.

These event cancellations greatly impact countless people, businesses, non-profits, and other organizations as their livelihoods are potentially taken away – with no known end in sight. 

Events and community gatherings – be they for education, entertainment, food, culture, etc. – are essential parts of community life here in the Chippewa Valley and across the country. These event cancellations greatly impact countless people, businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations as their livelihoods are potentially taken away – with no known end in sight. Locally and across the country, venues, event spaces, and performers are losing critical ticket revenue, hotels are seeing record cancellations, and foot traffic inside local restaurants and retailers is thinning. The list could go on. The economic impacts are immediate, and the lasting effects are, of course, yet to take shape.

Case in point, you may notice this week that the print issue of Volume One has far fewer pages than usual. This is because, as events get cancelled, so does their promotion and coverage. Just before this weekend’s deadline, nearly every event we featured in the issue (which is set to hit the street Tuesday) was cancelled, so several articles and ads were pulled at the last minute. In fact, though we’ll do our best to keep our online event listings up-to-the-minute, whatever event information remains in print or online should be double-verified before you venture out, as more cancellations are likely coming. While our business can weather this economic storm for an issue or two, the effects are real, and the future isn’t yet clear. 

So What Can We Do?

So what can we do – as a community – in these times when much of our culture and connection is taken away? Amid dramatically slowed foot traffic and mass cancellations, how can we support the individuals, businesses, and employees who may be struggling to make ends meet, yet maintain an appropriate level of social distancing?  Here are just a few ideas – and please add your own in the comments!

  • If you have tickets to a cancelled event, instead of taking a refund, consider donating that purchase price to the venue and artist.
  • Make any annual donations or membership purchases for local non-profits and cultural venues now instead of later.
  • Buy gift cards to your favorite local restaurants and retailers now, to use or give later on.
  • Shop online or via phone from local retailers, many or most will ship items from their websites, and others will gladly take orders over the phone.
  • Consider ordering takeout or delivery from local restaurants that partner with delivery services or that deliver themselves. Then tip as if you were dining in.
  • Visit the websites of your favorite artists, musicians, and writers to buy/download their goods online. 
  • Like, share, and comment on social media posts from your favorite shops, venues, eateries, and artists to increase exposure and show support.
  • While activity should likely be limited, if you are feeling well and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and others as advised by the CDC and other health professionals, it's possible to support establishments in person on a case-by-case basis. However, some experts advise this shouldn't be done unless absolutely necessary, and the advice is changing by the day. Stay aware of the latest recommendations.

Our local venues, restaurants, and retailers work hard year-round to help create and foster the culture of our communities. They provide the stages, shelves, tables, and walls to display the community’s hard work. They and their employees need our support right now. We cannot stand to lose a single business to the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, it’s already happening in cities elsewhere in the country, as the fragility of many of our main street economic systems become clear. 

So please, do what you can to help, while keeping the safety of you and your family in mind. Together we can weather the health and economic impacts of this pandemic, and come out better, stronger, and wiser on the other side.