The arts are in corona-crisis? So what

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Written By Karen Gee

The world is in lockdown.

As researchers and scientists scramble for a COVID-19 vaccine, the rest of us have taken to our homes.

With not much to do but endless circuits of the kitchen, we’re understandably looking for a little distraction. For that, we turn to the arts, one of the hardest-hit sectors in the current economic downturn.

Yet with so many in need of help right now, why should we help this sector? And how?

We need the arts

If you think you don’t need the arts, think again. In the last few weeks you’ve probably engaged with the arts more than ever before. How have you been filling those hours of self-isolation: bingeing on Netflix, reading, listening to podcasts? Thank the arts.

Many are also taking advantage of the boom in live streaming. Solo performers, along with companies large and small, are streaming past performances, live shows, classes, singalongs, gallery tours and impromptu lounge room gigs, for free. And all in the name of keeping us connected, comforted and distracted during this trying time.


Love your local

Reading to pass the time? Recommend your latest great read to a friend, talk it up on social media, and most of all keep buying books. But don’t just buy from the big players; plenty of local bookstores need your support, and many are offering free local delivery.


Pay it forward

So far, an estimated 255,000 arts events have been cancelled across Australia due to the coronavirus pandemic, with a total income loss of around $280 million. That’s a huge blow for an industry that runs on not much more than the smell of greasepaint.

What can you do? Pay it forward. If you hold tickets for a now-cancelled event, consider donating the cost of the tickets instead of getting a refund. It’ll help both those in the spotlight and the many behind-the-scenes people to keep going.

How else can you help out and reap the benefits?


Make the connection IRL


When we’re finally allowed beyond our front doors, how can we keep supporting the arts? And why would you go to a live performance when so much has been live streamed for free? It turns out the benefits run both ways.

First up, buying a ticket or visiting a gallery is one way to say thanks to those who’ve kept you entertained during lockdown. And it supports them, too – without a wage, they can’t continue to produce their art, and then it won’t even be available online.

But it’s also about you. Going to a play, a movie or a live gig is a special thing. It just feels good, doesn’t it? Like you’re sharing something with everyone else in the room. Well, there’s some science to back that up. Research shows that brain activity and heartbeat can synch across an audience, even among perfect strangers. Now that’s something you can’t get in front of a computer screen.

So get out there – when you can – and enjoy through the arts what you’ve been craving all this time in self-isolation: connection with others. Trust me, it’ll be worth the price of admission.