At Creative Waikato, we’ve been closely following the Ministry of Health’s advice around the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation.
This week (16 March), the government issued guidelines for public events and mass gatherings in the effort to encourage social distancing. All of us, performers, technicians, event organisers, venues, galleries, artists, and communities, are entering unchartered territory and we’re well aware of the heavy short term and expected long term impact this will have on our arts community.
No doubt this is the beginning of a very difficult period of time. We’re looking into ways we can offer support and similarly Creative New Zealand will release a plan for supporting the arts sector on 31 March.
So far smaller events can go ahead as planned and we’ve put together a list of 8 things artists and arts organisations can do to adopt a ‘new normal’.
As in other difficult times, creativity holds the power to connect, inspire, challenge, and expand our minds. Each generation has its unique set of hurdles and within the arts we can find solutions through compassion, curiosity and critical thinking.
While members of our community may be in self-isolation, this is a great moment to take solace in the arts.
Let’s find creative ways to bring people together while keeping a few extra meters apart.
8 artist hacks to adopt the ‘new normal’
1. Set up your new normal
For small events, gatherings, workshops and rehearsals:
- Instruct sick people and those with low or compromised immunity to stay home
- Peg back doors to minimise touching things
- Avoid hand-shakes or close contact
- Wash hands on arrival and after setup/pack down
- Spread seats further apart OR in a big circle around the edge of the room
- Limit audience numbers to allow extra space
2. Keep your messages clear, well-informed and panic-free
Make sure your emails and social media posts are fake news free. We can be calmly-concerned without running around like headless chickens.
You could also consider sharing other art, music or online experiences which allow people to tap into the transformative world of arts and gives them a reason to smile.
3. Be kind and keep high-risk in mind
Arts activities in the community often include people at high-risk of illness (like the elderly), so it’s important to take precautions while embracing new ways of engaging with your people.
Also, racism, panic-buying, and hording never helped anyone. Cheers.
4. Keep afloat
For those in events and entertainment who have seen your work dry up overnight, the government (as of 18 March) has support in place for you:
- Check if you’re eligible for a 12-week wage subsidy as an employer, contractor, sole trader or self-employed
- Self-employed artists or contractors can fill out this application form
- Employers can apply on behalf of your business to keep people employed through this form
5. Embrace online connectivity
Many local, national and international arts organisations are exploring possibilities of live-streaming and online-based arts activity. Perhaps you go ahead with a performance and live-stream it, but without a physical audience in the room just like the Berlin Philharmonic are doing with their Digital Concert Hall, or this string quartet in Venice’s La Fenice Opera House.
You can also reach out to other artists to collaborate on new or existing projects. Or you could contribute to projects like ilostmygig if you’ve lost your gig.
Plus, the online world has unlocked the possibility to experience museum exhibits, symphonies, and operas from halfway across the globe.
6. Develop your business continuity plan (for immediate and long term)
The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment has heaps of info on creating a business continuity plan post COVID-19. Now is a unique opportunity to re-imagine your arts practice or organisational model in a new creative way. Start by asking some pretty deep questions like:
“Why are we doing what we’re doing?”
“How can we sustain and grow ourselves and our people through a winter of pandemic hibernation?” (pretty poetic but you get the idea)
Speaking of preparedness, this is an overseas site but has heaps of relevant resources for Freelance Artists during COVID-19.
7. Support local musicians by forgoing a refund for cancelled shows
NZ composer, performer and music producer, Victoria Kelly has written a great piece on how we can support local musicians. Worth checking out so we can metaphorically get our hands dirty while keeping them sparkly clean.
8. Go make stuff!
Many artists are already masters of self isolation. We’ve been doing it for years. Food, water, and art supplies are all we need. If you find yourself in self-isolation, use these two weeks of studio time to create, develop, and (thanks to the internet) share your new work.