How Will Arts & Culture Survive Physical Distancing?

Featuring Daryl Cloran, Artistic Director, The Citadel Theatre; Heather Igloliorte, Concordia University Research Chair, Circumpolar Indigenous Arts and Julie Nagam, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, Collaboration and Digital Media, Co-Chairs, Indigenous Advisory Circle, Winnipeg Art Gallery; Noémie Lafrance, Artistic Director, Sens Production; and Michael Hidetoshi Mori, Artistic Director, Tapestry Opera

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. Adapting platforms

The inability to gather has forced artists across Canada to rethink how they can present their work. Artists play a pivotal role in helping the public endure the pandemic, so their absence would be devastating. Digital platforms have provided artists with a way to continue to connect with their audiences and come together as a community, one of the ways art has always been meant to be enjoyed. As countries reopen, galleries and exhibits will also have to reconsider the focus of their art since local communities will be their primary audience.

2. Truth to our relationships

COVID-19 has brought truth to many of our daily relationships. We all have time to review our relationships with our family, significant others, community, city, government, and history and determine what relationships need to change. Canadians must choose what they want to leave in the past and what they want to bring into the future post COVID-19.

3. Systemic change

The period of reflection that COVID-19 has provided allows Canadians to rethink the societal systems that persecute BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) residents. We can no longer ignore the oppressive structural issues that have existed for hundreds of years in Canada. One panelist expressed that “I think that we’ve been really doing that work and sometimes that work is unrecognized. And so the moment right now is that we actually have this platform, an opportunity to keep pushing and radically shift those structures because those structures are broken.” The art community is ready to lead the way to a more equal and just future.

4. The opportunity of a Universal Basic Income

Our panelists discussed the value of art to society as a way of challenging perceptions and changing the way people think. The relationship between art and the economy has been difficult and multiple panelists expressed their disdain for the instrumentalization of art for economic gain. The CERB payments have been beneficial to many in the artistic community, allowing them to focus more on their expression and less on rent. Some of the panelists suggested the value of extending the relief payments beyond COVID-19 as a Universal Basic Income.

5. Importance of diversity

Leadership diversity is crucial for implementing change; therefore, it is important that more BIPOC have the opportunity to fill decision-making roles in society. There needs to be more of a focus on providing students with experiences that allow them to develop their leadership skills. Investing in the futures of students continues to be extremely valuable.

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