Francesca R., journalist
As is common knowledge, COVID-19 was officially characterized as a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Following this, emails and news stories announcing the cancellations of various performances, classes, and even the closing of studios as a whole flooded into artist’s inboxes. Before we all knew it, everyone’s calendar was emptier than a grocery store’s toilet paper aisle. However, rather than being excited and looking at this as an extended spring break, this brought about significant panic. Artists already get paid very little, would they be paid during this time? And as it is so difficult to “make it,” in a career in the art industry, every minute of practice is of the essence for students. How would they receive proper instruction and training? Fortunately, because of modern technology, continuity in training and a continuation of practice in the arts has been made possible.
One way in which the arts community has been able to come together during this time has been via live classes. Instagram has been an especially popular platform which many well-known artists have been utilizing in order to keep art in people’s lives. For example, New York Times bestselling illustrator Wendy MacNaughten has been utilizing Instagram Live to offer drawing classes Monday through Friday. The use of these live classes has allowed for collaborations in the arts that may not have otherwise been able to happen. For instance, Principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, Tiler Peck, has been offering daily live ballet classes on Instagram Live, in which she has featured guest artists such as Leslie Odom Jr. and Jessica Vosk.
Not only have live classes been made more available during this time, but live concerts and performances have as well. These performances have ranged from the more classical, such as screenings of performances from the Mariinsky Ballet, and opera singer Andrea Bocelli’s live performance on Easter from Italy’s empty Duomo Cathedral, to more modern works such as Ballet X’s streams of their more modern works, and the various from-home performances of pop singers such as Miley Cyrus.
Social media as a whole has been a crucial factor in keeping the arts community stable during this time. Popular artists have been able to utilize these platforms in order to show the world that we are all in this together during this time. Social media has also been helpful in that the arts community has been able to encourage people to use this increased free time and solidarity to create and delve further into hobbies.
Unfortunately, while certain aspects of the arts have been able to flourish during this time, many artists are struggling. With already low wages, COVID-19 has been a significant hit to many artists around the world. Fortunately, there are many ways we can help. Some cost-friendly ways to help lessen the blow would be to attend exhibits and online classes, and share them with friends and family, and offering emotional support to any artists you know. Another way to help would be by buying artwork directly from an artist online. Remember that art is not always just physical paintings or drawings, consider purchasing a variety of artwork, including music. If you are able to, consider donating to the arts, or to fundraisers aimed specifically at helping artists during this time. Art is such an important aspect of our world, so preserving it is of the essence, even when times are difficult.