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Baguio comes to aid of artists, entertainers hit hard by prolonged COVID-19 lockdown

/ 06:43 PM April 24, 2020
ART HOUSE. Baguio

ART HOUSE. Baguio has been home to some of the best and many unrecognized artists in the country. Some of them now need help after the COVID-19 lockdown put their livelihood to sleep. PHOTO BY EV ESPIRITU

BAGUIO CITY—Saying the city’s artists and entertainers are being hit hard by the extended quarantine, the councils which oversee Baguio tourism and creative city activities have launched a fund drive to help displaced artisans, said filmmaker Ferdie Balanag, one of the organizers.

“With art events, concerts, productions, commissioned art and crafts – serving as pillar support to tourism work – now being cancelled in Baguio City and in cities across the nation, this is the reality that many artists, musicians, and cultural performers and workers are facing,” said Balanag’s group, Good ACTS (Artists and Craftspeople Trust Support).

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“Their livelihoods dependent on live events and face-to-face interactions, many have unexpectedly lost their main source of income and were not financially prepared for the repercussions of this unprecedented crisis,” it said.

About two-thirds of the money raised would provide Baguio-based artists with “basic relief and emergency packages and an eventual one-time stipend,” as well as “sustainable marketing opportunities.”

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The group, on its website, said it foresaw “ground events” being cancelled or postponed for several more weeks so 30 percent of the funds that would be raised would be used on “more long-term solutions” like alternative marketing strategies and platforms.

Our hope is that we will help artists and craftspeople develop more economically sustainable sources of income to support their livelihood currently in crisis,” the group said.

It said the Baguio Tourism Council and Council for Baguio Creative City would enter partnerships with “prospective benefactors and donors.”

Good ACTS’ initiative spins off from a tourism recovery program which is being finalized by the Baguio government and to be enforced after the COVID-19 pandemic when hotels and places of leisure are allowed to open.

Part of the transition plan provides aid for workers who were displaced when the Luzon quarantine barred tourists from entering the city, and closed all lodging facilities.

More than 4,000 employees were displaced aside from people who relied on the trade like souvenir manufacturers and tour guides, said Aloysius Mapalo, city tourism officer.

Mapalo discussed his office’s transition plans during a Friday (April 24) meeting led by Mayor Benjamin Magalong.

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Baguio lost P1.4 billion in tourism income starting in February when the annual Baguio Flower Festival was suspended until Holy Week in April, which normally draws most of Baguio’s visitors, Mapalo said.

Balanag has been recording life in the city since the lockdown began for a documentary and a narrative film that would be used for promotional and marketing projects aimed at reigniting interest in Baguio, he said.

Edited by TSB

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