Artistic activity is generally considered to be secondary to a main activity.
Artists are first and foremost economists, journalists, teachers, shopkeepers or farmers. In consequence, because of their amateur status they are often not taken seriously. In some cases even their talent is devalued. In the last few weeks, while most of us have been quarantined and locked down at home flattening the curve, our eyes have been glued to our screens more than ever.
Our work meetings have been happening online and since we cannot visit our families. Skype has become our virtual living room. Our governments share updates on progress made in governance online and essential services are provided online as well.
In a time when physical closeness is abhorred and even criminal, the internet has come out strong in support of the fragile system of economics that shapes the global community.
What has come out even more strongly is our increased consumption of media content on the various platforms we frequent when we need to distract ourselves from the unprecedented events unfolding.
Netflix viewership in the month of March 2020 went off the roof. At a time when we cannot go the parks, watch movies at the theater, attend a play or engage in other forms of artistic consumption those statistics are barely shocking. We have long known that arts & culture are essential for building community, supporting development and contributing to economic opportunity.
The last few weeks have been stressful to say the least. The effects of the pandemic have been felt across the globe without bias. Giant corporations that seemed Goliath-like and immovable in their houses of money are now reeling on the brink of bankruptcy as is the meek beggar in the street.
If there was a ever a time for the humanities to play their role in nurturing our health and well-being, now is that time.
From an academic standpoint, the humanities include the study of history, philosophy and religion, modern and ancient languages and literatures, fine and performing arts, media and cultural studies, and other fields.
The humanities play a major role in helping people understand the past and envision a shared, more equitable future. Our local communities are rich in artistic and cultural assets but these communities are disinvested in because they are predominated by moderate to low-income families.
As such, any solution brought forward should also include positive economic impact on the livelihoods of the people in our local communities.
With the humanities on our side, we can develop and shape our infrastructure, governance and transportation thus improving access to healthy food, and other core amenities.
A tool of resistance
The imagination is a tool of resistance and the humanities are the best tools which we can use to engage the community and inform people’s decisions.
The intersection of arts & culture, technology and innovation has the potential to redefine our lifestyles and reinvigorate the human spirit that has long been crushed by the tyranny and evil of those entrusted to lead.
Stories have the power to control the future and that is why it is essential that the humanities should come to the forefront and take their rightful place as the leader of a truly free world.
There is a rising group of creatives who are producing works that analyze, contextualize and highlight the dynamics of community development with regards to governance, social, economic & environmental responsibilities.
Through music, theater and other forms of arts & culture these innovators are reevaluating the role arts & culture play in the creation of a better society. Support them how you can when they come to you.