Anchorage nonprofits navigate uncertain times amid pandemic

Published: Jun. 16, 2020 at 10:16 AM AKDT
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Alaska’s non-profit sector represents a wide variety of organizations that provide services like housing, healthcare and food security. They also make up 17% of the state’s workforce.

As the economy has started to reopen, many non-profits are trying to figure out how they’ll move forward, including the arts, which may be one of the hardest hit communities.

For Nina Bingham, performing on stage is what brings her joy. She’s been a violinist for more than forty years – performing in countless shows for the Anchorage Concert Association.

That all changed when the pandemic hit.

“It was a disappointing end to our season,” Bingham said.

Since then, most artists have put their instruments down.

“You practice independently, but in my world, the things that I practice for are to work with other musicians,” she said.

A once vibrant stage, it’s now quiet inside the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.

“I always knew when the next concert was going to be and right now I don't know when the next show is going to be,” Jason Hodges, executive director for the Anchorage Concert Association said.

Since the PAC went dark in mid-March, seven events have been canceled. It’s unknown when the curtains will open again.

“About 80 percent of our revenue comes from ticket buying, and we have no tickets to sell right now,” he said.

The ACA is among 5,700 non-profits across the state. The sector employs 44,000 Alaskans.

“From now new people who are unemployed to healthcare, to childcare to all of those and then there are whole sets of non-profits that have had to close their doors in the name of public health who are trying to figure out how to safely reopen,” Laurie Wolf, president of The Foraker Group said. “And what does that even mean, organizations are all over the place.”

For Bingham, it’s a time to reflect on how these group enrich our communities.

“We are still here, that we still love to play, and we all can't wait to get back to playing, just like they can't wait to hear us, again, and we can't wait to get back to it,” she said.