By Becky Raspe

Being a patron of the arts is a little different this year. With no end to the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, many opportunities to consume art are either unavailable or changed to keep artists and the public alike safe.

So, how do you show your love for your favorite makers during the holidays, and buy for those on your list? Claudia Berlinski, director of the McDonough Museum of Art in Youngstown; Monica Glasscock, manager and framer at Artisans’ Corner Gallery in Newbury; and Lee Heinen, owner and artist at Lee Heinen Studio in Cleveland, say you can still show your support and stay safe. 

“White Birch in Fall Encaustic” by Jeanne Fashempour, 6×6, $145 | Artisans’ Corner

1. Visit art galleries on a safe basis.

For smaller galleries like Artisans’ Corner Gallery, visitors are reduced to a maximum of 10 people in the space at a time, Glasscock says. “We’re observing those basic safety precautions, wear your mask and look with your eyes and not your hands,” she says. “I do know that art makes people happy and we have a lot of people that stop in just to get their fill without having to go to larger galleries.”

“Spin Again AKA Southfield 6” by Christine McCullough, 2020. Acrylic on board. On display in Gallery A at the McDonough Museum of Art.

2. Donate to local artist organizations and collectives. 

To support the arts this season, consider donating in your name or someone else’s name as a gift. Northeast Ohio has many art collectives and organizations dedicated to encouraging creativity in the community. Think the Cleveland Art Collective, Graffiti HeArt, the Cuyahoga Arts & Culture’s Collective Arts Network, Heights Arts, SPACES or numerous other organizations. 

“Pieced Together.” Lee Heinen Studio’s COVID-19 series reflecting various states of mind. All pieces are 16 x 16 inches oil on canvas. $800 each.

3. Pay to attend virtual exhibits, shows or plays.

Many museums, orchestras, artists, bands and theater groups are still holding events – just online. Look around social media and check in with your favorite groups – whether that is the Cleveland Orchestra, Playhouse Square or your favorite local band’s streamed concerts. You can still get the live experience from the comfort and safety of your own home.

4. Purchase a membership to your local museum – either for you or a friend.

Berlinski explains since the McDonough Museum of Art has free admission, supporting the museum by purchasing a membership can go a long way in making sure similar establishments stay around. “Since we don’t have a gift shop or admission fee, a membership is the perfect way to support us,” she says. “That money goes to keep our admission free and our events at a low cost. It helps us keep maintaining the way we provide programming to the community.”

“Locust in the Wind” by Lauren Baker, 2020. Airbrush and acrylic paint, foil tape, gypsum, polyurethane foam, resin, pom poms and wood. On display in Gallery B at the McDonough Museum of Art.

5. Give directly to an artist’s virtual tip jar or commission a piece.

Maybe your favorite artist doesn’t have anything that catches your eye at the moment but you still want to give them some love – enter the virtual tip jar. With apps like PayPal, Venmo and CashApp, you can give directly to the artists you love. Sometimes, artists will use websites like Ko-fi, where you can make donations and commission a piece directly from the source. Talk about a personalized gift or addition to your home.

6. Talk about your favorite artists.

Sharing your experience at a studio or gallery goes a long way in supporting the arts, Heinen says. Even saying how much or why you like a certain artist can get new eyes on their work. “Media is important to artists,” she says. “We want to get the word out. I am a little less inclined to use social media, but it is a prominent game in town. So, be sure to share your favorite artists online too. We want all of these different arts opportunities to be around when this is all over.”

“Not Always.” Lee Heinen Studio’s COVID-19 series reflecting various states of mind. All pieces are 16 x 16 inches oil on canvas. $800 each.

7. Plan to attend the virtual 2021 Cleveland International Film Festival.

Slated for April 7 to April 20, 2021, the 45th annual Cleveland International Film Festival is going online. Buy tickets for the whole family, be prepared to grab the popcorn and take a seat on the couch for some varied offerings – from full length to shorts. For more information on next year’s film fest, visit While you’re there, check out the festival’s own merchandise to show further support.

8. Buy books by local authors, at local bookstores. 

Find some good new reading material for those on your list, and support local writers and bookstores while doing so. For example, local writer and comic book artist John “Derf” Backderf released his new comic book, “Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio,” on Sept. 8, 2020, published by Harry N. Abrams. Known for his other works “Trashed” and “My Friend Dahmer,” Backderf writes about the Ohio National Guard shooting students on the Kent State University campus on May 4, 1970 during an anti-war protest, killing four, and describes his experiences during that time. The comic book uses interviews conducted by Backderf to explore the lives of the victims and the events surrounding the shooting. It’s available for $24.99 at Mac’s Backs, 1820 Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights, or online at, as well as at other local bookstores.

“Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio” by Derf Backderf, author of “My Friend Dahmer”; $24.99 (hardcover) at Mac’s Backs in Cleveland Heights, and available at other locally owned booksellers. Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Sept. 8, 2020.

9. Shop small and directly from artists

Purchasing local art from local galleries and artists can go a long way to help makers feel supported. And that has been a popular method to show your love for the art community, Glasscock says. “People are spending more time at home and they want to surround themselves with things they enjoy that are beautiful,” she says. “Supporting local artists is supporting your neighbor. A lot of our artists are from Ohio. It’s nice to know the work you’re getting is handmade and someone just down the road from you made it, instead of it being mass produced. It’s unique.”

“Cleveland Skies” by Kristin Pierre. Oil on canvas. 48x24x1.5, $800 | Artisans’ Corner

10. Create your own art.

While supporting local makers and galleries is the best way to make sure art survives well past the pandemic, sometimes people just don’t have the money to financially support their favorite creators. Making your own art and sharing it with others keeps the dream and the idea alive.