The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the arts and cultural sector both in the UK and around the world. The sector has seen radical disruptions to many of its routines, revenues and relationships. Yet, physical distancing has shown all of us how much we need and value connection, culture and the arts. Our series charts how artists and institutions in different geographies have responded to the crisis.
All available insight articles in this series are accessible below.
In the first of our series we explore how China is charting a course to recovery for culture and creativity during and after the pandemic. The key lesson from China is that innovation is essential to both responding to the immediate challenges rising from COVID-19 but is also critical to the future success of the culture sector. During the pandemic, culture has been a comfort, a diversion, an intellectual outlet, a way to explore and find meaning even while confined to the home. There can be no doubt now that culture is vital to our wellbeing.
Having zoomed in on China in our previous article, we now look to the rest of East Asia – from the well-subsidised sector in North-East Asia, to the artist-entrepreneur in South-East Asia. Across East Asia, national level responses for the arts and cultural sector have focused on policies and measures designed to provide guidelines or immediate short-term financial relief. We see a shift underway to explore creativity as a form of resilience. Artists across the Asia-Pacific are adapting to shutdowns in a variety of ways with many swapping physical performance spaces for virtual ones.
In the third part of our arts and cultural COVID-19 series, we explore how the arts and cultural sector across the Americas is responding to the pandemic. The crisis highlights how important it is to engage in mutually beneficial collaborations with other sectors that foster innovation — through, for example, scientific research, digital entrepreneurship, community action, and international cooperation. Arts and cultural organisations in the region are re-thinking audience engagement through digital approaches as well as continuing to commission artists to create/inspire new work and we are seeing arts and cultural organisations coming together and creating peer support groups.
In the fourth part of our arts and cultural COVID-19 series, we explore how the arts and cultural sector across Wider Europe is responding to the pandemic. This huge and diverse region encompasses Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, the South Caucasus, Western Balkans, and Central Asia, as well as Israel. The lockdown broke new digital ground for cultural organisations in the region with artists and cultural organisations faced with decisions about how to connect with audiences and adapt to the new changing circumstances in a creative and sustainable way, adapting business models, ways of working and how they engage and work with their audiences.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought forward the need for global digital capability in the cultural and creative sectors. The Japanese government is making the development of digital capacity the cornerstone for the recovery of the arts, culture and creative industries. But while Japan is renowned for world-leading technology and innovation, the UK has a complementary advantage in the use of digital tools and technologies in the arts. Insight explores how the UK and Japan’s culture sectors have collaboratively embraced technology, drawing on reflections Clare Reddington, British Council Trustee.