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Long Beach businesses that boarded up their storefronts in March did more than protect their assets: they also created blank canvases on which Long Beach artists were able to render beautiful and inspiring murals at sites throughout the City.

Thanks to COVID Cover-Up, a project started by the Arts Council for Long Beach and funded by a grant from the City, several Long Beach artists were able to stay productive during the quarantine by creating images of solidarity and hope for the community.

“When Stay at Home orders were enacted we knew that our artists would be affected, so we started the Keep Arts Working program, a way to pay artists to work while uplifting everyone staying at home,” said Judy Estrada, Marketing and Grants Associate for the Arts Council. “The COVID Cover-Up is just one project within our Keep Arts Working program.”

The Arts Council obtained the City grant after being contacted by 2nd District Councilmember Jeannine Pearce, who was looking for ways to help uplift the Long Beach community. Artists were either selected from the Arts Council Artist Registry, had applied for micro-grants in the past, were recommended by other artists, or had approached the Arts Council themselves, looking for a way to give support during the current public health crisis.

The artists complied with all public health and safety protocols while working on their murals.

“Any artists who would like to be considered in the future for other Keep Arts Working projects should join our Artist Registry and sign up for our newsletter,” Estrada said. “Also, we ask any donors enjoying our COVID Cover-Up murals to please donate on our website and help us continue to uplift and inspire our community during these difficult times.”

A COVID Cover-Up map can be found here: https://artslb.org/project-covid-cover-up/

While the mural at the Ross Dress for Less in Downtown Long Beach was unfortunately removed due to damage incurred on May 31, Downtown Long Beach has since become host to a plethora of diverse murals on boarded storefronts. According to DLBA Placemaking Manager Mariah Hoffman, the effort to beautify these facades was in part led by the Cultural Alliance of Long Beach, but many murals also sprung up organically as a collaboration between artists and businesses. The July Downtown Scene newsletter will include a catalogue of images documenting these murals, as well as news about how they may be preserved and displayed.