The Year of COVID will forever be remembered for things we could not possibly have imagined a mere 12 months ago. Supermarket skirmishes over toilet paper, friends sharing "Quarantinis" via Zoom, police cautions for people sneaking a quick kebab in the park and our state premier talking about pandemic-safe “bubbles” for our intimate partners.
For a lot of us - particularly those of us in Victoria - 2020 will be remembered for the long days, weeks and months of lockdown. Just take a moment to think about what lockdown might have looked like without the arts and creative industries?
No Netflix, no music, no books, no Instagram, no podcasts, no YouTube, no blogs.
All of a sudden toilet paper doesn’t seem so important after all...
Things we needed more than toilet paper in 2020
The one thing we needed more than toilet paper during the coronavirus pandemic was the arts and creative industries. Not convinced? Here are some of the things that kept our spirits up and our boredom levels down during lockdown.
TV and film
Netflix stock surged to record highs in early 2020, as savvy investors took a punt on the predicted increase in demand for streaming services during the pandemic. They were right. Thanks to a plethora of streaming services, bingewatching marathons became the #1 indoor sport during COVID. We watched for escapism, we watched to while away hours of interminable boredom and we watched our favourite shows to fill the social void in our lives.
As thousands of musicians found themselves “cancelled” during COVID, the rest of us turned to music in other ways, for solace, comfort, catharsis and entertainment. Online and in Facebook groups, we shared YouTube video clips, dusted off our old CD collections and watched our favourite artists perform from their bedrooms online. Shaky videos of balcony operas from Italy went viral, proving what we already know - that music has the unique power to heal.
Arts and crafts
One of the lovelier aspects of this year has been the explosion in arts and crafts, as people gained more time to enjoy their hobbies. Hashtags like #quarantinecrafts and #covidcrafts attracted thousands of posts on Instagram, as people around the world defied isolation to share their arts and craft projects in online communities. And, if you haven't checked it out, the Bendigo Venues & Events website has been hosting the "What I did last week: Online exhibition", allowing local artists to share their work online.
This might seem like an unusual inclusion, but social media is also a product of the arts and creative industries. Since the lockdown, social media has become a lifeline to many people - a cathartic place to connect, communicate, vent, watch cat videos, scoff at conspiracy theories or distract ourselves during the pandemic. To those who live alone, social media has acted as a virtual 24/7 community, alleviating the loneliness and isolation of lockdown.
Show some love to your favourite creators
No one knows what the future holds, but hopefully we’ve learnt a few lessons since the infamous “Toilet Paper Wars”; settling down into the new normal that COVID has created. The arts and creative industries will continue to be as important as ever, and while we all miss live music, concerts, theatre performances, comedy shows and festivals, we can all continue to support our favourite artists and creatives in the meantime.
So, if you are in a position to do so - buy that book, donate to that Patreon account, order that t-shirt, share that social media post or find other ways to support your favourite creators during the COVID-era. They’ll love you for it.