The community rallied around activist and artist Rolando Chang Barrero, raising thousands of dollars to save his art gallery in West Palm Beach from closing.
“The community response was phenomenal,” Barrero said. “I didn’t realize that many people cared.”
So far the GoFundMe page has raised $5,260, which means he’s got April covered. But if the shutdown lasts another month he’ll be back in the same place.
So for now, he’s preparing for the worst, and hoping for the best.
“I have to look at this realistically,” he said. “It’s challenging.”
In the past few years Barrero has become a fixture in the LGBT community with his most recent undertaking being Pride on the Block, an event that took place right before the coronavirus pandemic turned into a crisis here in South Florida.
This year Barrero was named the official set designer of this year’s Pride of the Palm Beaches, and personally invested $4,000 to create custom made merchandise. Now that the event has been cancelled he’s stuck with the products.
In addition to the GoFundMe he’s been asking people on social media to consider purchasing some of the merchandise. Since the products are not dated, or specific to a city, he’s hoping to be able to sell it down the line at other events in the future.
Barrero isn’t just worried about his business though, it’s been tough on him personally as well since he’s not making any money right now.
All of the money he’s raised through the GoFundMe account is to cover the expenses of the gallery. A family member stepped up to cover his mortgage.
In response people have been “sending me boxes of food and gifts,” for which he’s been thankful.
While out of work he’s also been making masks for donations.
Visit The Box Gallery online here.
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