Like many of you, I have been saddened by the postponements of openings, cancellations of performances and closings of venues due to the necessary concerns about the public health consequences of transmitting COVID-19. I have been especially concerned about the artists, production crews, staff and venue operators deeply impacted by the recommended social distancing needed to protect people from the virus. At this point, the financial repercussions are unfathomable. What will the future of the arts look like?
Throughout history, in the midst of a crisis, it has been artists and their works that have been on the frontlines as beacons of light through the darkness. Today, as we grapple with the global pandemic of COVID-19, Champions of the Arts are again modeling hopefulness and demonstrating creative ways to persevere. They are once again pioneering a new and likely better age.
From virtual concerts to virtual tours, artists and cultural institutions are taking to cyberspace to keep the arts alive. For example, after the cancellation of their tour, several members of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed a segment of “Revelations” in their homes. It was merged together in a video and posted on Instagram. I also love the live stream offering by the Metropolitan Opera and the virtual museum tours offered by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, along with many other major cultural institutions throughout the U.S. (you can find the list of some of them here).
And then there are the artists who are sharing their music online using the hashtag, #Together at Home Concert Series. John Legend recently streamed an hour-long concert from his living room via his iPhone for nearly 250-thousand people. This is just a tiny sample of the creativity and instinct for connecting with others that is at the core of what that all artists seek to offer. Theaters also are offering streaming opportunities to see plays and musicals.
The truth is, we can adapt when we must; technological advancements have made it more accessible than ever before. Conferences have now switched to webinars and online classes are now even being utilized by the public schools. I personally have been using Zoom to teach my classes at Columbia University.
It also is encouraging to learn about nationwide emergency grants and resources to help relieve some of the financial stress experienced by artists who have a sudden loss of income. Fractured Atlas circulated a list of national resources for freelance artists. And Creative-Capital also has compiled a list. It may take years to recover, but one thing I know for sure, Champions of the Arts will continue to create, evolve and seek opportunities to present works that hold up the mirror of truth so that we can see ourselves.
I am emboldened by that spirit to persevere and I’m determined to remain positive. As my mentor Daisaku Ikeda writes, “We need to be brimming with conviction in our faith, overflowing with life force, and burning with the willingness to face whatever of life’s challenges that may come our way.” (The New Human Revolution)
How are you persevering through this pandemic? Please share your thoughts below.