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COVID-19 #AGMAendures Testimonies

Julianna Brei-Crawley, Assistant Stage Manager, Seattle Opera


I am a Stage Manager who lives and works in Seattle, WA. During this pandemic, I lost the current contract I was working on with a local theater, all of my side jobs and a few contracts for the next season have already been canceled. I am one of the lucky people who have a spouse who can still work from home and some savings that will help us through this time of uncertainty. 

I know so many different artists, technicians, and designers whose lives have been devastated by the loss of contracts and then further complicated by the difficulty to get unemployment due to the transient nature of their work. I am thankful for the artistic unions I am a part of and the actions they are taking to be our collective voice to the U.S. government. I hope relief can come quickly to those who need it and that this event will be the catalyst for systemic changes to the U.S. healthcare system and the way the U.S. funds the Arts, an essential part of our nation.

Thank you,


The AGMA Relief Fund depends on the generosity of many. If you are in a position to give, please consider helping AGMA artists in need.

Helen Pickett, Freelance Choreographer

Like so many of her fellow artists, Helen Pickett, freelance choreographer and AGMA member, has had work canceled or postponed indefinitely. She wants to help spread inspiration and motivate others, and herself, to stay creative. So, she has revised this article, originally published in Dance Europe in 2006. Thank you, Helen, for sharing this with AGMA members.

About Helen:

Helen Pickett is an American contemporary ballet choreographer. She studied under Michael Smuin and Lew Christensen at the San Francisco Ballet and danced for twelve years with Ballett Frankfurt under William Forsythe. Her choreographic debut was in 2005 with the Boston Ballet. Learn more about Helen here.

Kelly Maryanski, Actor and Aerialist [Video]

I was one of the Principal Actors and an aerialist in the Ring Cycle, which we had been working on for the past four years. I am still really, artistically heartbroken by all of this. [Watch Kelly's video below]

Demetrius McClendon, Dancer and heARTist

Tiffany Matson Photography

Dance is the rhythmic beat of my heART; its pulse reminds me that I have a profound purpose in the world: one that requires me to share/shape my gifts so they may be used to create, build, and sustain beloved community. Beyond a career, dance is a profound spiritual practice that invites/challenges me to be more conscious of how I move through the world so I am able to make concrete choices that honor and expand my/our possibilities.

That being said, this particular time that demands physical distancing is deeply saddening, to say the least. Everything about my heART from development to performance requires close proximity with others; so much of what informs the magic of dance is explored with, shaped by, and communicated through touch. Because of this situation, as a dance performer, I have no idea what is next—my next dance contract with Owen Cox Dance Group in April, which included a performance tour in Ukraine, has been cancelled and I do not yet know what’s happening with my summer musical contract (money I was really depending on to sustain myself the rest of this year). I have been freelancing the last few years which means I am not able to collect unemployment and am not prepared to deal with the financial toll created by COVID-19. Sadly, I know that I am not alone as so many other working heARTists are experiencing similar realities and facing the same critical question: how will I support myself during this time?

It can be rather terrifying to be in a space of such deep unknown, but I have come to understand (especially after freelancing for so long) that I can't live inside of fear--I can live with fear, yes, but I cannot move forward with all of me when I am stuck inside of fear. So, I choose faith, which has brought me this far.

Investing in the heARTistic community at this critical time would make an immediate impact. We need it more than ever. We give so much of ourselves to feed the art/community because we know the mission is greater than ourselves; we realize it is our responsibility to use our gifts to paint/inspire a contrast-filled world in need of more light, more love. This is what you support when you invest in our community.

Peace & Much Love,

Jordan Beyeler, Chicago-based dancer

Hi there, my name is Jordan Beyeler and I’m a Chicago based AGMA dancer and dance teacher. My professional performance credits include Wife/Apache Dancer in Joseph and The Technicolor Dream Coat (Music Theater Works), Soloist Dancer in La Traviata (Lyric Opera Chicago), Kristine in A Chorus Line, Chastity in Anything Goes (Metropolis PAC), Norwegian Cruise Lines, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, and Visceral Dance Chicago. When I’m not in the studio, I judge for Applause Talent Competition, Drop the Beat, and Triple S Talent along with the teaching at numerous studios around the Chicagoland area.

I graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BFA in dance. Connect with me at @jbeyeler or www.jordanbeyeler.com

Because of the Coronavirus and all the closings in my field, I’m currently unemployed and without future assistance. The following jobs have been canceled for me without any payment or aid:

1. Dance Judge with Applause Talent Competition for the weekends of 3/13-16 & 3/26-29: expected income of $1800 total ($900 per competition)
2. Graziella in West Side Story with South Bend Civic Theater - rehearsing here in chicago this month and perform in South Bend on 4/17-18. Whole show cancelled: expected income total of $650 show stipend
3. Dance Teacher at Stephanie’s Academy of Dance and Dovetail Dance Studio: expected income $465/every two weeks
4. Server at Three Dots and A Dash closed indefinitely with “unpaid time off”: expected income of $347.88/week

Total March income lost: $3,610.76

I completely understand that there are thousands of other artists like me and I think it’s best to spread the love as much as we can so all I’m asking for help with paying my essentials: rent and utilities. I’m currently paying $994 for those bills and I currently only have $450 in my savings account and no additional income coming in. 

If you are finding yourself in a position to give, please remember those in the entertainment community that have put their blood, sweat & tears into your current past times. The very shows you are streaming, the music you're playing and books you are reading - that’s our artistic community’s contribution to society. We need your help to be able to still create long after this pandemic is over. Thank you for your time and support!

Stay safe & sanitized,