The Grackle

Observations, Reflections and Miscellany from the Wacoan

The New Normal: Waco and COVID-19

“Make It In Waco” Helps Support Vulnerable Arts Community

4 years ago

By Claire Van Zee

When the team at local arts nonprofit Creative Waco recognized the detrimental effect the pandemic would have on the Waco arts community, they knew they had to do something to help.

So they launched “Make It In Waco,” an online marketplace “created by locals for locals.” The site serves as a sort of Etsy, where artists of all kinds can sell their goods and services in order to continue supporting themselves during this time.

“That very first week, it was very evident that this was going to be longer than a couple of weeks and would be pretty devastating for our arts and culture sector,” said Creative Waco Executive Director Fiona Bond.

“The site takes a lot of pressure off of creatives right now, because they have to start at ground zero, doing all of the background research in learning how to get their products to the public,” said Creative Waco Director of Marketing and Communications Kennedy Sam.

On the site you will find over 10 product categories, ranging from original fine art to online classes and virtual performances. It’s a great resource for you to discover new, fun products and experiences from the safety and comfort of your own home.

Anyone from a fine art painter to a beautician can create a product or service and put it up on the site to sell. “The only restriction is that the product has to be original,” Sam said.

By purchasing from “Make It In Waco,” you’re not only helping to meet the immediate need of the people who are selling the products and services, but you’re also helping to meet the long term need of protecting and nurturing the Waco arts and culture sector.

Supporting the growing arts and culture sector of Waco has never been more important or crucial as today. As one of the newest, and growing sectors in Waco, they don’t have the luxury of having firmly established organizations that have been around for 20 to 30 years, Bond explained.

“Considering how vulnerable the sector is, we really wanted to find a way to help, particularly individual artists, entrepreneurs and businesses, to have some sort of online presence during this time,” Bond said.

By using funding from events and projects that were canceled due to COVID-19, Creative Waco managed to reallocate that money towards the making of the site.

“We wanted to create a platform that was going to immediately appeal to a market that we think already exists. One of the people who love Waco and want to support this lovely, flourishing, creative, embryonic sector,” Bond said.

Creative Waco also hopes that this platform will be able to live outside of COVID-19 as well. “It’s a really fantastic tool for people to test drive their ideas because it’s very low risk and costs nothing to build. So, if people have an idea of something that they’ve always thought might work, this is the ideal opportunity to test drive it,” Bond said.

It’s also just a strong signal to our artists and creatives — people whose intellectual capacity is what makes them a living — that we value them here in Waco, Bond said. “We want to support them as entrepreneurs, and we want them to be part of our identity as a community. We hope we’re sending the message that they are something we’re willing to invest in because we care about them and their businesses,” Bond said.

“These are the businesses that are going to make Waco a destination,” Bond said. So, if you’re trying to find a way to make a long-term difference, you can literally shop and do good.

If you think this would be a useful platform for you, Creative Waco would love to hear from you. “We’re always interested in making this an opportunity for businesses and new ideas. Remember, this is not just for visual artists, if you make it, then you can ‘make’ it!” Bond said.