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The difference art can make in times of distress

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Tuesday 21 April 2020

In the first terrible days of the pandemic, the fate of the Arts (and particularly the artists) seemed to be forgotten, and their importance to our well-being overlooked. This week their significance has been eloquently expressed in an ArtsHub article by Professor Peter O’Connor (University of Auckland Faculty of Education and Social Work):

‘Our connection to the arts sits at the heart of our shared humanity. We all know instinctively that when the world is in a mess, the arts are there for us Movies, music, online theatre and games, making art in our garages and our homes have become a key part of how we manage the fears and disruption of physical isolation.

If the arts are vital for the present, they are even more important for our future. They feed and nourish our imaginations. A better world can only be made if we first imagine that it is possible.’

 Most artists make a lot out of very limited (financial) resources

This has been brought home vividly by artists who’ve used new technology to create and share wonderful events with choirs, orchestras, and music of all genres. But fantastic though this is, it’s only a substitute for the real thing – hearing and physically feeling the notes of a cello reverberate in a recital space, or sharing the pleasure of an outstanding theatre performance with a like-minded audience. This was expressed rather poignantly by The Age film reviewer, Jake Wilson, in an article last weekend:

‘It’s not the total experience of the real thing’ he wrote, ‘Streaming is no substitute for the shared cinema experience’. And it’s the experiences of our audiences that we’re impatient to bring back as soon as we’re able to have a timetable to do so.

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