Local artist describes struggles as a small business owner during the pandemic

Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Self-employed people across Kansas are desperately waiting for financial help that hasn’t come yet. One local business owner said that help is critical if she ever wants to re-open her doors.

The spring months usually mean a major jump in business for the spots in north Topeka. The coronavirus has changed all that.

Now at a time when a place like Amused Art Gallery would be busiest, owner DeAna Morrison said it’s empty instead.

“It’s an art and gift gallery you know, people’s priorities are food, not artwork,” Morrison said.

The pandemic has kept their doors shut for over a month now.

“When the order came it was just crushing,” Morrison said. “There was no hope of opening in a few days. We knew it was going to be a while when it came to that.”

The closure was a major blow for Morrison and the gallery she’s owned for more than six years now.

“Nobody knows how to prepare for this kind of a thing. There is no preparing for it. So we’re at a loss as to where we go now,” Morrison said.

It didn’t just impact her.

“I have people who rent studios from me. I have artists who show their work here. That’s a whole lot of people not having that source of income,” Morrison said.

The CARES Act that Congress passed does offer some help for people like her who are self-employed.
Freelancers and independent contractors, previously excluded from unemployment programs, now qualify through the end of July and possibly beyond if Congress extends the program.

“Because of the CARES situation there is hope for people like me. We’re just kind of waiting. None of that has really come through yet,” Morrison said.

Governor Laura Kelly said in a Wednesday press conference that money should come soon.

“I can assure you that Kansas is very close. I’m hoping we’ll have those out, I keep saying tomorrow, but let’s again say tomorrow that we’ll get them out,” Kelly said. “We’ve been working on them very very hard but it’s a problem.”

For Morrison and the other artists at Amused it can’t come soon enough.

“As a person sitting here watching everything that you’ve worked so hard to be at a standstill and then not sure if you’re truly going to be able to go back into business again,” Morrison said.

But, she isn’t giving up hope.

“We’re tenacious. We’re people who just keep at it until we absolutely can’t,” Morrison said.

She said she’s determined to get through this any way she can and she’s hoping to reopen her doors as soon as possible. But on Tuesday she watched her neighbors across the street at the Tipsy Carrot close their doors for good and she said that was both terrifying and heartbreaking.

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