Written by Jennifer Laine, Executive Director.
Published in the April 2020 issue of the Mission Village Voice.
This month’s column was set to focus on the importance of arts advocacy as April marks “Arts, Culture and Creativity Month” across the state of California. That was, of course, until about 10 days ago when everyone’s, and I mean everyone’s, lives got turned upside down by COVID19. Normally, I would be going through a list of statistics and talking points about the impact of the arts on the economy, education and quality of life. However, now I find myself asking “what is the role and value of the arts during a global pandemic?” What do the arts have to offer when people’s lives are at risk across the globe and how can the arts help us heal?
While the arts sector may not be able to develop a vaccine or solve a shortage in healthcare supplies and equipment (although as I write this, the Costume Designers Guild based in LA are sewing masks for healthcare facilities), we are uniquely gifted in bringing people together and giving a sense of hope, freedom and resilience during times of crisis. One of the first things that we all saw coming out of Italy, which is being particularly hard hit by COVID19, are the images and videos of people singing and playing music from their balconies and windows. Similarly, we are seeing a proliferation of online DIY art classes and tutorials; symphonic musicians are posting their rehearsals online for all to see; there are free virtual dance classes and dance challenges that everyone can participate in. The arts are what bring us together, what make us feel human in good times and in bad. I am certain that we will come out of this public health crisis stronger, more resilient and more humane. In the meantime, I urge everyone to stay healthy, do what you can to support your community and loved ones, and I’ll see you- hopefully sooner than later- at our next exhibition, art class or performance!
Featured artwork by Open Studios & Teaching Artist, Victoria Murray