We’ve heard a lot in the past months about viruses and vectors. PPEs and handwashing. Social distancing and don’t-forget-to-wear-your-mask reminders and more. A seemingly never-ending stream of information and warnings. Lists of the number of people infected and death tallies. Closures. Reopenings. New normals.
One thing we haven’t heard since March are exclamations such as this: “Wow—I loved the new exhibit at the museum.” Or, “What a great show that was last night!” Or, “Do you want to go to the arts bash Friday night?” Because there haven’t been any exhibits, shows or bashes. COVID-19 has devastated artists and the arts community socially and economically—in some cases spiritually, as in a dampening of one’s creative spirit.
Our ability to engage with art directly and in person has taken a huge hit, a staggering blow. But love of beauty, joy, inspiration and just plain old loud music remains alive. Of course the arts will always exist, but under what conditions? How will we be able to experience the creative activity of artists, the outward expressions of inside passions? You can never touch the paintings in a museum, but will you be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with a stranger and share a moment of deep appreciation?
What we do know is that Northeast Ohio artists and organizations of all kinds are responding to the current realities, and making plans for the future. Artists are still creating and advocates are still supporting.
To help shine a light on their projects and initiatives, PBS Western Reserve is embarking on a monthlong series called The Arts & COVID-19: What Now? It comprises videos, podcasts, blogs and social media posts featuring stories of perseverance and hope.
From individuals to collectives, painters to photographers, musicians to theater folks, the arts community is fighting back against unseen enemies, including our own fears. Because it’s true: Going through rough, dark times is an opportunity to grow stronger. It’s a matter of developing strategic responses rooted in the love of art and creativity, and connecting to each other like never before.
And as we go forward together, take a moment to visit your own art space of the mind. Recall that masterpiece you saw up close, the play that made you cry (or laugh uncontrollably), the music that soared your soul. Perhaps—if you’re fortunate like me—while gazing at the new hibiscus trees on your socially distanced patio.
The Arts & COVID-19: What Now?