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Arts organizations have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic with theaters and performing arts venues largely shuttered until a vaccine can be developed.  

In an effort to help local LGBT arts organizations survive the prolonged shutdown and emerge stronger, Wilton Manors-based Our Fund Foundation recently formed a coalition to share resources, coordinate messaging and marketing and leverage the goodwill and financial support of their patrons. 

“We have agencies in our network that work with HIV/AIDS, seniors, youth, but it has been the arts organizations that have been wrestling most with what the new normal will be,” explained David Jobin, president and CEO of Our Fund. “If we value these organizations, how can we protect them until the time they are able to open their doors again?” 

Jobin noted in a phone interview that South Florida boasts diverse, world-class organizations across all the arts disciplines. Members of the coalition include the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida, Island City Stage, Miami Gay Men’s Chorus, OUTshine Film Festival, South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble, Thinking Cap Theatre and Thou Art Woman. 

Because many of these organizations share audiences, Jobin engaged Our Fund’s marketing and public relations consultants to work with the coalition members and coordinate their efforts. 

“Rather than stepping on each other’s toes, we want to make sure their efforts are moving the whole cultural community forward, helping them communicate with stakeholders on fundraising, and putting a plan in place to be here a year from now,” he said. 

“Organizations such as our play an integral role in the LGBTQ community by providing safe spaces for enjoyment, connection and reflection,” said Mark Kent, executive director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida. “We are still here, albeit virtually, to serve and entertain our community and want to assure our loyal patrons that we are doing everything in our power to survive and thrive when we re-emerge.” 

Nicole Stodard, artistic director of Thinking Cap Theatre, added, “In spite of all kinds of adversity, theater as an art form has endured for 3,000 years because it nurtures our need for shared experiences and feeds our love of active storytelling. We need theater now, more than ever, both in the midst and in the aftermath of the pandemic, to lift us up and unite us, and when theaters reopen, South Florida’s actors, playwrights and backstage artists will have the creative cure our community so needs.” 

Victor Gimenez, executive director of OUTshine Film Festival, said virtual performances and productions many organizations are relying on now can’t substitute for shared, live experiences. 

“There’s nothing quite like attending a long-awaited movie premiere or an independent screening with like-minded film enthusiasts … This inherently changes when watching from home alone. We can’t wait to resume film festivals which tell so many powerful stories the LGBTQ community relates to and has come to rely on.” 

Jobin is optimistic about the initiative: “This is part of why Our Fund is so important — bringing agencies and stakeholders to the table and working together in a beneficial manner to advance South Florida’s vibrant and diverse LGBT community during this challenging time.” 

To learn more or donate to Our Fund Foundation’s arts and culture fund, go to