We hope that you and yours are safe and healthy during this difficult time. Like many cultural institutions throughout the country, Bakehouse Art Complex closed its doors to the public to do its part to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). In what may be a first for our organization, we also closed our studios and artmaking facilities to our approximately 100 artists in response to the City of Miami’s mandated Shelter-in-Place order.
Our artists are dependent on their studios and our facilities for their livelihoods, so the closure has been hard for them and our organization. Moreover, many in the Bakehouse community have lost jobs and professional opportunities, as mass closures disproportionately affect industries in which artists work.
The Bakehouse’s building has been a site for production since it was constructed in 1926, as one of the first industrial bakeries in South Florida. Since the 1980s, it has nourished the community in a different capacity, animated and activated by the more than 1,500 artists who have occupied our studios and artmaking facilities over the years. For the first time, there will be no production within our walls, at least in the coming weeks.
While our doors may be closed, our artists continue to create. They are adapting to how they live and work in ways big and small. In addition, most are looking to see how they can support their communities during this tumultuous period, including the neighborhood of Wynwood Norte that Bakehouse calls home. We are doing our best to support our artists and in the coming weeks, we hope to work with them to develop programs that engage our audiences and share more of their stories during this time of extraordinary change.
Artists play a critical role in society, reflecting and shaping our worldview and building and transforming communities. We must do more to support their visions in both times of prosperity and hardship. Miami artists are especially challenged as the rapid and successful development of our city has made it increasingly difficult for artists to maintain a quality of life while pursuing a creative practice. While the history of this epidemic is still being written, it is abundantly clear that the Bakehouse’s mission is necessary now more than ever before: to address the critical need for affordable living and working spaces for artists, so that Miami’s creative talent can have stability during uncertain times.
In the meantime, you can help by buying works directly from our artists, making a donation that we will use to support our artists in need, or making an unrestricted gift to the organization to help support our community initiatives.
We want to applaud the extraordinary leadership of Oolite Arts, who has launched an Artist Relief Fund, and Fountainhead Residency, who has been working with us and other artist-serving organizations, to aggregate and disseminate a comprehensive and updated list of resources available to support artists in this time of crisis.
While there have been many losses of all kinds and magnitudes during recent days, Bakehouse is sad to share the news of the loss of its board secretary and director McKenzie A. Livingston. During her three-year tenure, Mckenzie championed our mission, not only attending and promoting all things Bakehouse but also providing critical input as we charted our new path forward. We express condolences to her loving husband Tom Martilloti, her parents, stepparents, extended family, colleagues, and friends.