Impact of COVID on Art – How Artists are Fighting and Winning the Pandemic War?
There is a wonderful quote of Thermos Merton, the American Trappist poet, which states that art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. But come 2020 and the scales tipped more towards losing. COVID has been tough on everyone. Countless have lost their livelihoods, millions have lost their money but worst of all, thousands have lost their loved ones. The frightening part is that nobody knows when and if there is an end to this widespread chaos.
But, there is one particular group of people who did try (and are still trying) to turn this chaos into creativity, the group called artists. Friedrich Nietzsche once said that you must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star. It turns out that most of them have chosen to stick with this saying.
Impact of COVID on art and culture has been equally profound and severe as on any other business. The art world is marked with posh festivals, exuberant carnivals and dazzling fairs but they all hang in the air now. Libraries shut down, museums closed, no more movie theatres or music concerts and no more auctions at art galleries - everything suddenly went, poof! – vanished just like that. To artisans, COVID was a nightmare.
Be it concerts, art fairs or cultural festivals, these occasions aren’t just events meant for gatherings and merry-makings only. They are opportunities for all those artisans who work hard throughout the year to showcase or perform their masterpieces to their patrons However, with social distancing becoming a necessity, COVID, it seems, have beaten art by dampening spirits of the artisans.
What do Numbers Say?
If we go by numbers, then here some survey stats that reveal how COVID has impacted art and culture worldwide.
- According to an ongoing survey of the non-profit organization American for the Arts, which has already surveyed around 11000 organizations, the estimated total economic impact to date (with regards to art and culture) is around $13.1 billion. In the same survey, it has been reported that 96% of organizations have cancelled their events.
- London Book Fair, a book exhibition that recognizes budding talents and significant contributions towards book blogging has to cancel this year’s event. Winners were announced online.
- Results of a survey conducted by The Network of European Museum Organizations found that museums in touristic regions have had an income loss of 75-80%.
- The International Folk Art Market (IFAM), which is considered to be the world’s largest folk art market, had to cancel its 17th annual edition which was supposed to take place in July 2020 in New Mexico.
- The official website of UNESCO has clearly stated that the crafts sector of India, which is one of the largest employment sectors, is seeing severe crisis and has already cost the livelihood of thousands of artisans in both rural and urban areas.
The Battle of Survival – COVID vs Artists
It has become an inevitable fact that COVID has been a setback for the art industry, but it is also true that it has led to emergence of another art discipline, the COVID art. An article in The Quint gives an overview of how Rajasthani artists are using folk music to spread awareness among locals. Through their singing and dancing, they have been teaching dos and don’ts of COVID.
Online magazine all over the world have been collecting and publishing the changing face of art which is taking place across the globe. A post from We Forum have mentioned that Carson Ellis, an American children’s book illustrator and artist have started Quarantine art club on Instagram where he puts up daily assignments for people who are stuck at home.
Similarly, musicians have been adjusting themselves to the online platforms and people have been able to enjoy live-streamed concerts from their couch. As for craftspeople, ecommerce portals have proved to be a boon, especially in India where livelihoods of thousands of people are in question.
Like the rest of the world, the art world too has been trying to adjust to COVID. Artists all over the world, whether they are musicians or craftspeople or painters or dancers, have put up a tough fight and have been trying their level best to win it too. By harnessing technological power, they have been trying to keep their audience entertained and at the same time, keep polishing their talents.
While Instagram and Pinterests have been flooding with memes and graffiti, platforms like The India Craft House and Okhai have been busy working with the less fortunate artisans, especially from rural areas. Such portals have given them hope that people have not yet become obsolete to arts, and perhaps all is not lost.
Extending the Hand of Mytr
Mytr too was started with the objective to help art thrive by bridging gap between artisans and patrons. During the time of pandemic, Mytr’s team has been dedicatedly working to find, reach and curate various art forms and their creators. Though the tours have stopped, the spirit is still on the go. Great souls define art as the reflection of its time and if anything, COVID has showed that it’s completely true.
Starting from something as simple as face masks to more functional items like drawstring bags, Mytr has been witnessing an upsurge in the appetite of artists to turn these tough times in their favour, and our team has been trying its best to get them seen and heard.
COVID was completely unpredictable, but it taught a life-lesson to everyone, the art of adjustment to paradigm shift. Yes, it did give artists a hard time but it also empowered them with the use of technology. It made them realize and it made us realize that art has the ability to fight its battle with words, colours, organized steps and what not. The pandemic’s era is not yet over, but it can at least be deduced that it has failed in its attempt to make artists stand with the White Flag.