Decline of art and culture in Covid-19 | Pakistan Today

Decline of art and culture in Covid-19

For centuries, the existence of art and culture remained an integral part of human life and its history. It not only exhibits that our natural instincts are in safe custody but also keeps them preserved for generations to come.

The word “culture” is a wide term in itself, of which the word “art” is a part. In larger terms, culture refers to the universal human capacity to classify experiences and to encode and communicate them symbolically. The inherent human capacity is a defining feature which varies among the people living in different places and therefore, they also differ by country and by continent. In thiss context, art being a vast subdivision of culture, is composed of many creative endeavours and disciplines. It is an expression of creativity or imagination through visual arts expressed in the form of visual arts, literary arts and performing arts. The performing arts have also several components such as music, theatre, dance, the spoken word, and film. Thus, the nature and scope of both, culture and art, are very wide and include each and every human activity expressed as a result of our creativity and imagination all over the world.

The outbreak of coronavirus covid-19 at the close of 2019 and its spread across the globe in early 2020 have profoundly affected all human activities related to art and culture. There is hardly any technological alternative for human expressions, as art and culture demand to go the public directly and perform before them. In the context there are many organisations and institutions that help, guide and support these artists and cultural activists. The coming of the pandemic has brought for them a series of forced-close orders from the competent authorities for further order till the active cases of Covid -19 are found frequently or the situation becomes normal. As a result, the organisations’ operations and individuals who are employed or work independently have no work to do, but only to follow the precautionary guidelines of the government, generally the health ministry, and local authority to keep safe.

Only a few of them are employed permanently on monthly salary basis, while the mass of them depend on casual funding and donations from the artists. It largely depends on government’s capacity and will to provide them financial help and other facilities they need and desire.

The outbreak of coronavirus covid-19 at the close of 2019 and its spread across the globe in early 2020 have profoundly affected all human activities related to art and culture. There is hardly any technological alternative for human expressions, as art and culture demand to go the public directly and perform before them. In the context there are many organisations and institutions that help, guide and support these artists and cultural activists.

As the pandemic has spread in the larger part of the globe, or in more than 200 countries, the art and culture-related organisations and activities such as libraries, archives, museum, film, television productions, theatre concert tours, music, art festivals and zoos are either closed, suspended, or working in a very restricted way. If they are working or allowed to work, various techniques and strategies have been employed by the venues of art and culture to reduce the risk of transmission of covid-19. In addition, the number of working persons have also been reduced and those who are permitted to work use hand sanitiser, wear masks compulsorily and submit to temperature checking, among other measures.

The new situation has brought a lot of changes in workers’ lives. Long closure of all establishments has also compelled them to continue their mission and the objectives they stand for. And now, they have moved towards social media and online activities for entertaining the people. All artists have now began to offer performances via their personal accounts from their homes through singing, poetry readings, live books, and other creative works.

Viewing the long retention of the effects of Covid-19 several organisations and institutions of the world began their digital programmes to reach the greater audience and make them know about the aspects of art and culture. For example, the BBC, the Sydney Biennale and the National Arts Festival of Africa moved faster in this direction. The BBC launched a new programme called “Culture In Quarantine” the and Sidney Biennale became the first international arts festival to go totally digital. In Africa an entirely new event called the “Social Distancing Festival” was created to give the message to the people that a separate space should be given to artists who are unable to perform in public and whose exhibition has been impacted by the large outbreak of covid-19. In line with this, several agencies also made available their artistic documents that contain various relevant contents. In the period of pandemic, by the encouragement of UNESCO and other governing agencies, the bodies related to archives, libraries, museum, and documentary heritage also began to collect and preserve the physical and digital records of this particular period. In addition to this, several governments have issued orders for preservation of official records related to the pandemic. This highlights the importance of memory and in future it would be a documentary heritage of social connectivity to be used in coming days if such misfortune arises again.

In general, the position of art and culture is in bad shape due to covid-19, but its each and every branch is facing problems not similar to others. The zoo, cinema and television, libraries, sports, publishing, music, and a host of other sectors are in queue. The birds and animals that are kept in the zoo get the larger share of their food from visitors who visit the zoo. Now that those visitors are not coming, they are on the verge of starvation. For example, about 1,000 elephants are facing a food crisis in absence of visitors and the health of other small as well as big animals and birds need financial help. Likewise, the cinema, television and radio are suffering from the cancellation of the making of further episodes of serials, making and release of new films and recording of new radio programmes. In comparison to previous year’s earnings, in March a loss in the film industry was recorded of $5 billion while in April there was a global loss of about 40 percent or $20 billion. It also led to either suspension or delay of several film festivals and award ceremonies across the globe. However, due to so many people staying home there was a sudden increase in the use of video streaming services, and the video demand services and film archives have provided many cinema clubs. The sudden increase in the use of videoconferencing services such as Zoom for work and education caused an unprecedented load on the internet infrastructure. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus and its wide spread, the libraries, archives, publishing industry, music including performing arts face a challenging time. Although the possibility of coronavirus transmission from paper was very low, several precautionary guidelines were also issued for libraries. On the one hand the libraries across the globe managed to conduct  online classes  to ease the problems of students.

In the context, fund crunch is a common issue of the people and organisations attached to the various aspects of art and culture. As the ticket sales in various shows are the main source of the income in the performing arts, due to long lockdowns and complete closure, worldwide art dealers calculated a revenue decrease of about 70 percent. It has impacted the gross domestic product (GDP) of nations in negative because the industry also pay a handsome amount  to the government in the form of different entertainment taxes.



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