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Babylon Looks To Use Art To Rebuild Downtown Businesses Impacted By COVID-19

BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — As local businesses struggle to come back from the pandemic shutdown, there's one unique initiative to jump-start foot traffic to downtown areas.

It's all about supporting the arts.

As Long Island downtowns return to a new normal, there are signs of progress, but still left behind, the performing arts, on pause indefinitely.

"We do not know yet when we can reopen. We're still waiting on the guidelines from the state," said an employee at the Argyle Theatre in Babylon.

But now there's a push to jump-start at least some of the arts, to lift spirits and struggling businesses.


"Eighty-five years ago during the Depression, they recognized how important the arts are to economics and bringing communities together," said Matt McDonough from the Babylon Is Back Program in an interview with CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff.

Babylon town officials say focusing in part on art, entertainment and beautification, in the middle of a health and economic crisis, will bring people back to starving downtowns.

They're launching an arts initiative that includes drive-in live concerts and pop-up performances in parking lots near shops and restaurants, launching plain air at classes and creating installations by local artists throughout the town of Babylon.

"It could include murals, sculptures and different types of art that will be permanently installed and that can then be part of a map or a trail," said Liz Mirarchi, from Babylon Citizens Council On The Arts.

The first will transform a blank wall at a health center into a massive canvas to be painted by students, led by local artist Marie Saint-Cyr.

She knows that arts support in this time is as critical as artists have seen income evaporate.

"It definitely has been devastating, especially if your only source of income is the art, like selling your paintings," said Saint-Cyr.

"The arts has that power as it did in the '30s to bring communities together and it's going to do the same thing now," said McDonough.

The $100,000 endowment for the initiative is paid for by local businesses, an investment in the art and heart of the community in Babylon.

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