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3 Apr 2020

So… what can I do?

Dr. Jeremy Mayall, CEO

Be flexible, be resourceful and be creative.

It is hard to comprehend the true scope of what is happening and things may feel like they are out of control, but by focusing on what we do know and what we can do, we can spend less time feeling fearful of the unknown and more time making a plan for where things go from here.

Global catastrophes change the world.

The legacy of our current situation will be long lasting and it will continue to change the way we move, learn, connect and create. We just need to take a moment to settle into this and think creatively about how we will respond.

We know that there will continue to be an arts sector after this crisis – it may be different for a while, but it will continue. There will always be a need for arts and creativity. We know the demand for the arts right now is at a peak – people are looking for things to do, things to watch, things to listen to, things they can be a part of from the safety of their homes.

Nature has a cycle of destruction and rebirth. It is when things seem darkest that the light can start to shine through, so what we are seeing is humanities response to being faced with extreme change. We respond through the arts. We respond through kindness. We respond through creativity.

We are seeing creativity on a level never before seen in human history.

As we move through this current situation, we can use the time to reframe how things were, how things are, and how things will be. We can explore possibilities. We can learn new skills. We can make a decision to change our overall mindset in a positive way.

This may not be easy. No one said change is easy. But being willing to embrace the uncomfortable things and move forward with a creative mindset can help us see new opportunities. We don’t need to feel the need to be overly productive at this time. It is okay to reset, readjust and set a new course. But it is important to make some steps, even tiny ones, towards something that will help shape the possibilities for the future.

What can we do now?

Do something for yourself.

Make room for the mental adjustment you are going through. Be kind to yourself and your family. Take time when you need it. You don’t need to be instantly productive. This is a time of change and this kind of transformation will require patience. It might be frustrating, but it can have beautiful results. As you move through that transformation into this new normal, your creative and resilient brain will be waiting for you. Then when you feel like you have a new bubble-life groove going, that is the time to get back into the flow of things.

Try to start, or finish, a project that you have been thinking about for a while. Perhaps you always wanted to experiment with some new idea or medium or method for creating? Now is a perfect time to be in your studio trying things. Try asynchronous collaboration via the internet. Work with a local friend, or someone on the other side of the world. Time and locational distance matter less when we are all in a state of physical distancing. If you aren’t feeling instantly creative, this time might also be used for more practical things, like tidying your studio, clearing your hard drives, creating new templates for working methods, learn something new – a new technology, a new instrument, a new recipe. It is also time to reset into life with family. Play a game. Read a book. Fill your inspiration bucket. It is all good.

Do something for your community

If there is an artist you like and you are in a position to buy their work online, or take a lesson from them or donate to a livestream or Patreon page, then that is a great way to connect and help the arts thrive. There are a range of local venues who have different ways of receiving community support through donations and things. See the different groups online, connect with people whose work you admire.

Make art every day

Even if only for 10mins each day, make something. Make a sketch, write a poem, sing a song. This little window of creativity lets you be in control. It is good for your wellbeing to engage in some kind of art-making. Change what you expect from yourself and just make things – ideas, tests, concepts, challenges. Don’t expect a ‘perfect’ artwork. Just make something and enjoy that process in and of itself. And if you do it often It becomes a habit, a creative habit. You begin to feel that it is a productive use of your time. You feel like each day you have done something. This is a great win to have each day. This regular progress will help to sharpen your skills.

It is also a great time to connect with your community online and find safe spaces to share your work. Share it in progress, share it finished, share the work. By creating and sharing our work, it can help people to process emotion and to feel connection. Remember it is not a competition, or rating one’s own work against that of our peers. It is about a kind and responsive community that is emerging through our collective creative expression.

Think about the future

We don’t know how long this will last. We don’t know what things have changed and how they may re-emerge following this current situation. But that doesn’t mean things have to stop. Our collective resilience has already demonstrated that.

We can afford to take some time and think about our future, and our ways of working as artists. Let this be proactive rather than reactive. Think about what you have. What skills, equipment, strengths, experience, or bodies of work do you have? That list of things can help generate ideas.

You get to reimagine what the future might be. How can you work in this new situation? What alternative income streams might be available? How can you connect with your audience where they are? What value can you continue to deliver and work with them to share your work and find new fans and a new community of interest and support.

Some things will return as they were, some things will change. There will still be a need for live arts experiences. There will still be a need for online arts experiences. When we think about the future, we shouldn’t feel like we need to operate in the same ways we always have.

Humans are adaptable, resilient and creative. We can move away from relying on memory and nostalgia for how things were. We can make art each day. We can connect with our friends and family. We may be physically distant, but we can be socially connected through the remarkable technology that is currently available. We can now have a future focus and collectively create the possibilities for the new normal.