Call it a primal instinct – almost as crucial as the will to survive.
Humankind – since far before recorded history – has always expressed its experiences, emotions, beliefs and underlying commonality through the arts.
Over centuries the chosen media may have been visual or literary; music, dance, theatre – or subsequent technological melding of all of them. The work may have been utterly trivial – or staggeringly profound.
Whatever the case, the arts have offered comfort and diversion, it’s true, but – far more than that – a way for us to process our feelings and connect. Whether it’s a courtyard concert held to entertain seniors in isolation or a rooftop aria offered as thanks to our frontline workers, in the two months since quarantining and social distancing became a fact of life, the arts have kept us connected with friends, families and kindred spirits on a deeper-than-usual level – often only through social media and online streaming.
If, in this challenging time, you’ve shared a treasured piece of art or a photo, tucked a painted stone into the nook of a tree, chalked a message of hope on a sidewalk or posted a favourite song, you have showed that the arts are part of your life, and learned something about yourself and others in the process. Even if you’ve only sat on the couch binge-watching movies or streaming series, you have been consuming the work of many artists.
For artists denied the usual avenues of expression, or chance to collaborate in usual proximity – the pandemic has become a measure and a test of creative ingenuity. Choirs, bands, actors have all proven it’s possible to rehearse remotely and reach appreciative audiences online.
And while it’s often hard to see positives in a tragic global pandemic, there is a sense for many that quarantining has offered an opportunity to step back and refocus. Artists whose work is by nature solitary have seen the benefit of that. Even in isolation it’s still possible to dream that dream of ‘what might be.’
There is daily evidence that the fire of creative energy has only been re-directed, not dimmed or extinguished. And hopefully one of the positives to come out of the present chaos will be a greater understanding that the arts – so often held frivolous and inessential – are actually a core expression of the human spirit.