It’s a new chapter for Aurora as the artist-run, biennial art festival announced the cancellation of its signature event in Dallas. It is transitioning into an arts organization with year-round experiences designed for the era of social distancing. Here’s the good news: the new format has allowed Aurora to launch a much-needed artist relief fund for North Texas creatives.
The festival was planned to return for its 10th year in November, but the ongoing uncertainty around planning large-scale events pushed the founders to rethink how they presented the artwork. Over the next 18 months, Aurora will roll out public artworks on a smaller scale, taking measures for social distancing and including more digital programming. Artist-founders Joshua King and Shane Pennington hope to bring back the cornerstone event eventually, but like many other event organizers, they’re realizing that fall 2020 is not the time to do so. Aurora’s signature event turned downtown into a spectacle, brightened by works of art from local artists. In 2015, more than 50,000 people packed into the Arts District. In 2018, it moved to City Hall, but rain dampened attendance.
“The original mission of Aurora is really to try to cultivate one of Dallas’ first free cornerstone cultural events with a large scale biennial. With that not being feasible anymore due to the pandemic, we’re now really taking a look at, how does our technology really evolve the future and how does our community engage with those two things,” says King. “It’s no longer about a cornerstone event, specifically for our city, but how is a movement in the arts, which are solely relying on technology to continue our missions, how does that evolve right now and what’s the future look like as it continues to expand its reliance on technology.”
With these changes to its schedule, Aurora has also announced the launch of an emergency artist relief fund in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund provides $4,000 grants to North Texas artists, which will be given out on a rolling basis. To be considered, artists must be based in North Texas, 21 years or older, and experiencing dire financial distress. Applications for the first round of artists grants are open through July 12, and two recipients will be chosen.
King believes this is the best way for Aurora to make an impact on Dallas so long as events are still a no-go.
“We’re just kind of having to reprioritize the mission so we can keep moving forward and really think about what’s the larger value and impact for us.”
If you’re interested in applying for the artist relief grant or learning more about it, click here.