The equation is simple: There are no more concerts, art exhibitions or theatre performances. Film premieres have been postponed, many filming schedules are currently being reshuffled, much to the dismay of those stuck at home trying to find new shows to binge-watch. Of course, that means that someone is suffering financially; and in this case, it is the art and entertainment industry.
In times of crisis, art is the first sector that suffers. At first sight, it seems expendable. Art is not an “essential good” needed to sustain society. However, art is also the way to deal with trauma – be it personal, societal, cultural. Music, painting and writing is what is supposed to give us the most hope in troubled times.
Creating as a Way to Express Trauma
Learning to put words to emotions is difficult. There is a non-profit organisation called Arts in the Armed Forces that dedicates its time to helping war veterans express themselves. It was created by none other than the famous Adam Driver (happy May 4th, everyone!). This foundation arranges theatre performances for soldiers to help them understand the trauma that they have experienced.
This may seem like it has little to do with our current situation. However, what we can learn from Mr. Driver is that art helps us heal. Creating something gives us purpose and intention where it seems like the entire world is chaos. At least for me, personally, writing has kept me grounded throughout the past six weeks, and I am sure that others feel the same.
Use What You Have
Art does not mean to put on a full production of Hamlet in one’s living room. We do not have to paint perfect still lives of our toilet paper mountains. We do not even have to create something ourselves. People are opening their windows in the evenings to play music. Musicians are streaming concerts online, theatre and dance performances are available on the internet. Sometimes, it may be enough to simply consume art.
The single good thing about this experience is that we are all currently going through it. Of course, there are people who have been hit harder by the crisis than others. Still, we are all experiencing the same anxiety, the same restlessness, the same fear of an uncertain future. Expressing our feelings is more important than ever right now.
Art is essential in a way that is different from food, sleep and other basic needs: It helps us express our emotions, use them constructively and show others that we feel similar things. Art keeps us afloat.
Header image by Claire P. on Unsplash