We often turn to art in difficult times. However, the measures taken to tackle the global coronavirus pandemic have also made our access to art more difficult. All over the world, cinemas, concert venues, theatres, museums, operas, galleries, and even bookshops have been closed. Many of these physical venues now fear bankruptcy without government support, unable to pay rent and employee salaries, or to meet other financial obligations.
Yet human culture is nothing if not versatile and adaptable. The social distancing restrictions caused by COVID-19 have led to cancellations, but they have also opened up completely new avenues for art. Artists have been innovating and expressing themselves remotely via technology. During the this has, of course, been a necessity. Could it also transform the art world permanently?
What do our readers think? We had a comment come in from James, who argues that the pandemic will strengthen online streaming services at the expense of physical cinemas. He thinks this trend is likely to continue even after the pandemic. We will get used to consuming culture (particularly the performing arts) online?
To get a response, we spoke to Fortunato Ortombina, the artistic director of the Teatro La Fenice, the largest and most famous opera house in Venice (which has been livestreaming concerts and opera performances during Italy’s lockdown). Does he see an online future for art? Or will the cultural world go back to normal when the pandemic is over?
For another perspective, we put the same question to Gitte Zschoch, a European cultural relations expert and Director of EU National Institutes for Culture (which has published a report on the global impact of COVID-19 on its members in the cultural sector). What would she say?
Finally, we posed the same question to Charles Vallerand, a cultural policies consultant and author of a UNESCO policy toolkit titled “Culture in Crisis: Policy guide for a resilient creative sector”, offering practical advice and adaptable measures on how to meet the most pressing needs of artists and cultural professionals during the pandemic. How would he respond?
What is the future of culture in post-pandemic Europe? Will the coronavirus lockdowns change art? Are you used to watching art and cultural events online? Or do you miss being part of a live audience? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!