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The arts need your support during coronavirus | Letters

Here’s what readers are saying in Friday’s letters to the editor.

We can’t lose the arts

The arts in the time of coronavirus

It’s always been tough for the arts in America. Most of us have some idea why this is so, from lack of government support of the arts, to budget cuts in public education, and so on. But now, of course, it’s much worse.

Even local venues are hard-hit. Some drive-in theaters, of which there are still seven in Florida, are also closed. It seems illogical since people can be effectively isolated in their cars, but then there is the problem of those concession stands. Who’s going to keep a respective distance while buying popcorn and pizza?

My wife Cheryl and I took pictures of the Ruskin Family Drive-In Theatre after we saw these uneasy words on their marquee: “Hopefully we can reopen May 1.” We are both outraged and saddened by this development. Who knows if this theater, which has been around since the 1950s, will ever recover? How long can these family-owned art businesses hold on before monthly bills start huffing and puffing at their gates?

Aside from the impact of closures on the artists and employees of art centers, the effect on society may be harder to measure. But it too is palpable. The arts obviously enrich life and we can keenly feel their absence. People are having to resort to sitting in front of their televisions more and listening to recorded music for their art fixes. Ask any theater-goer, opera attendee or movie patron, and they’ll probably tell you something about the greatness of communal art experiences. What compares with viewing art in a museum or attending a concert? When I go to art museums, I sometimes turn to strangers and talk about the pieces. Publicly attended art is so irreplaceable that there is no doubt that it increases the width of life. As they say in Spain, “Life is short but very wide.” Perhaps when this whole mess is over, people will support the arts more vigorously than they had in the past. I know we will.

Joni Mitchell was right. You really don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

Peter Bates, Sun City Center

I think my friend had it

Coronavirus testing

Here is my experience with the sudden death of a friend. In January, a friend went to New York City. He returned to Florida and was sick for 30 days. He had the same symptoms as COVID-19 and was tested for all sorts of stuff but not COVID-19. He got better but was weak. He is a diabetic as well. Last week, he felt the same symptoms. He never got tested in between and said that maybe he should get a test, so he made an appointment for Friday. It rained and they canceled the tests. On Saturday, he was admitted to the hospital after fainting. By Sunday, he was in the Intensive Care Unit and they used the ventilator Tuesday. He is dead today. No one asked about who he lived with. No one tried to trace. No one told his spouse to get tested. He never got tested between January and April.

Peter Murray, Ocoee

Restaurants, use this time

Stay-at-home orders to ease on Monday | April 30

A sign at Paradise Grille, Upham Beach, St. Pete Beach tells customers that the restaurant is trying to provide a safe place, March 20, 2020 as the Coronavirus threat continues. [SCOTT KEELER | TAMPA BAY TIMES]

There are a lot of us who can’t wait to go out to eat once we are allowed to actually have a sit-down meal at our favorite restaurant. Funny how this works...because we can’t have it, we want it all the more. Now we are really craving that pizza, juicy steak, scrumptious seafood, awesome spaetzle, etc. Restaurants should be preparing for us coming back. How about you use this “down” time to fix all those wobbly tables and chairs that are so annoying? The tables are usually easy to spot because they have a wad of napkins under one leg. And don’t worry...we’re coming back!

Pat Howard, Clearwater