The Great Pause on the arts: things I’m missing during lockdown

The arts are a home for many of us. We had plans of visiting art galleries, watching plays, enjoying bad experiences at open mic nights, and more. However, the coronavirus has put a pause on all of those activities. Whilst everything feels as though it is at a standstill, I wanted to take the time to reflect on my favourite aspects of the arts.

There are many aspects of the arts that I do truly miss, some of which I have never had the option to explore or never thought to before. I think most people can agree that the arts are a vital source of creativity that is especially necessary at a time such as this. No matter how many Netflix shows I binge, I cannot seem to fill the void left by the lack of cultural enrichment I get from the arts.
As an English Literature student myself, the arts are naturally a part of my university experience. My degree is entangled with the arts and impacted by the culture surrounding it. Through reading texts and exploring the authors behind them, I have read many critical essays and watched film adaptations of books that I have studied. Plays are usually a great medium between both – the stage is a place where not only can the content of the text be imagined but criticised through the director’s vision and choices.

I think the beauty of the stage lies in its relationship to the audience.

I think this is why watching plays has become a great pastime of mine. While on campus, I loved to watch different productions and see how they would interpret difficult subject matter to make it digestible for an audience. I think the beauty of the stage lies in its relationship to the audience, the way it allows for direct communication. The people that watch are allowed a very intimate experience of the action and a literal front-row seat to the performance. I personally like to watch plays on my own so nobody is embarrassed by my knee-jerk reaction to events other than myself. I miss the atmosphere of the theatre because everyone can appreciate the experience together and commend the actors on stage who are so close to us, creating such a unique experience for us as audience members.

There has been much speculation as to whether the arts will even return after the pandemic ceases and restrictions are lifted. The impact of the coronavirus on the arts industry is a real concern. Emergency funds are a life raft to many industries, but especially the arts. Many have said that the prospect of the arts industry losing one of its most prized treasures, the theatre itself, is worryingly real. If they are to be believed, I think a great alternative to them is YouTube, as many are starting to realise.

Waltzing around, dazed and perplexed by a bunch of confusing art, is honestly how I want to spend the rest of my life.

Many arts sectors have adapted to change during the pandemic, and one of them is art museums. I spent a lot of time over the summer last year practically wasting away beside exhibit plaques of museums and galleries. Waltzing around, dazed and perplexed by a bunch of confusing art, is honestly how I want to spend the rest of my life. I like the quiet vibe in museums, you can feel alone but surround by so much art that it’s not lonely. To be so far away from a free trip around an exhibit feels wrong. I really feel for those artists who had upcoming exhibitions to showcase their work which have been postponed due to the pandemic.

All in all, I think a lot of us are itching to get back into consuming what the arts have to offer. The vibrancy of the creative industry is a flame that we must not allow to extinguish. Not only do the arts entertain, but they educate. They provide an experience of the world that cannot be replicated in any other environment. The magic of live theatre, the stillness of museums’ glossed floors, and the sweaty crowd of audience members leaving a concert are all dearly missed at this time. I, for one, cannot wait to go back into the world and spend inordinate amounts of money enjoying all of them.

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