Cast your mind back a month ago. At the height of the pandemic. The obvious priority was treating patients, helping the vulnerable and supplying food. The arts, like many sectors, was in a state of shutdown. And shock.
The arts response was mixed. Zoom became an industry in itself, with early adopters creating new participatory activities and thought-forums. Some artists were able to move work online, some weren't. Whilst theatres and festivals closed, inspirational volunteers delivered art packs to front doors. Children crayoned rainbows in their windows as a sign of hope. People feasted on digital content made for free. Amid such speed and confusion, emergency funding was launched for those facing unprecedented cancellations.
Today, with the public having nowhere to go, it can feel like live and participatory arts are no longer recognised. Even digital work can feel saturated. At least for now.
We say to our colleagues (and often ourselves) hold tight. Our time will come again. Use this time to develop, innovate, build networks and most importantly...look after yourselves. New seeds are being planted.
As the post-virus challenges become apparent in society, it will be the arts, with its power to connect people and place, to offer dialogue and to improve mental wellbeing, that will be at the front of the nation's recovery.
Janet Moore and Kevin Grist, SparkedEcho
Community Interest Company No. 10405258.
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Studio 7, Sun Pier House, Medway St,
Chatham, Kent, UK. ME4 4HF.
Medway Voluntary Action.
Outdoor Arts UK.
Outlands National Experimental Music Network.
Cultural Consortium of The Old High Street Intra (Heritage Action Zone).
Outstanding Support from an SME to Hi3 Network Project - Hi3 Network.
Community and Outreach Partner of the Year - Canterbury Christ Church University.
Best Arts Project - Hearts for the Arts Awards.