Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Lockdown innovation in the arts

This year we have needed those little moments of hope. We could not go to concerts so the musicians found new ways to bring people together. Runrig produced an online stream of the recording of their final concert. I own the DVD of this concert, I could have watched it at any time of my choosing, but by making it a specific night it brought people together in emotion even when physically apart.

Normally an evening of humorous entertainment, only some of which is intended, Eurovision hit a surprisingly poignant note in 2020. Perhaps best illustrated by the following performance from the largely empty streets of Belgrade. 


For other musicians it was the topic of the pandemic which influenced their work. I cannot help but have some time for the notion of Alice Cooper taking on Covid, no matter how unscientific an approach it would be. 



The hope of Bon Jovi's message that "when you can't do what you do, you do what you can" is an uplifting soundtrack as we navigate a challenging year. Here re-recorded with Jennifer Nettles.



The BBC provided access when museums could not and put the exhibits in a context relevant to our times. While the National Gallery's highly anticipated Titian exhibition became a 'behind closed doors' documentary. The cultural conversation has also extended to ask what the pandemic will mean for the future of design in architecture and fashion

The 2020 pandemic has brought many words and phrases into our common usage that we'd not have thought of twelve months ago. We have also seen parallels drawn with the literature of previous health emergencies. Plague Fiction not only told that story but it also answered a point that had been puzzling me. The data informs us that the pandemic is a momentous event which in scale parallels those of the past and has brought a seismic shift as to how we engage in the world around us. Yet, there is still a lot of other news out there. It might be the primary topic we talk of, but by no means is it the only subject. Of course, this is always the case when viewed contemporaneously. During the worst years of the plague, literature still reflected other aspects of life. It is quite possible that future generations will look at 2020 and view it solely through the prism of the virus, as we might be prone to do when considering the era of Black Death. 

I appreciate that I have merely scraped the surface of the artistic innovation which has come to the fore during lockdown. There are many more examples out there and I have shown a bias towards some of my favourites above. I will conclude with one last example. An inspired concept which demonstrates graceful talent with an ability to put a smile on the face of both the ardent follower of culture and the curious passer-by. Swan Lake performed in bath tubs.

We are all adapting in our everyday lives to living with Covid in society, at least until a vaccine emerges. Perhaps we can take some inspiration from the innovation which comes from the creative sector, but even if not we can still find hope, solace, and the fortitude to push on from art in its many forms.