The Arts sector as we knew it is unlikely to return, even after the pandemic.

Indoor performances of any kind — theatre, dance, comedy, crafts — are still off-limits for now. Local lockdowns and reduced venue capacities are forcing arts organisations to reimagine how we experience them. With audiences keen for inspiration and entertainment, emerging innovations are offering new ways to bring audiences and performers together. 

The Arts sector online

Online performances may never re-create the energy of laughter rippling through a crowd, or the viewing of a rare artwork up-close. Yet the chance to experience art from afar could complement the sector in new ways.

For one, it could provide an increased the sense of universality, with opportunities to contemplate without feeling hurried on by the crowds.  It may also bring about a new way to engage with art, as with the 3D interpretation of the Mona Lisa.  “Mona Lisa Beyond the Glass” is a Virtual Reality Experience that seeks to brings La Gioconda to life in a uniquely modern way.

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Humour and escapism

A study carried out in America found that many art fans are hoping for a different approach to performances as lockdowns everywhere begin to ease. They wanted an experience centring on more laughter and relaxation, better connectedness, and a sense of escapism. These hopes are likely shared by many people in the UK and elsewhere.

Here are a few examples of what this new normal could look like, based on some recent and upcoming artist performances.

Comedy

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a great example of improvising to adapt to adverse conditions. The Festival’s 2020 pandemic edition will take place entirely online, with performances streamed live throughout August.

It will see the traditional array of seasoned and new comedians aiming to re-create the vibe of fresh one-liners and anecdotes. Every Friday evening will bring an hour-long #MakeYourFringe online performance, accompanied by series of free and pay-what-you-want events spanning the whole month. 

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A new approach to film

It’s no surprise that many of us have started watched more films during lock-down. Research by the Office for National Statistics also found that, during the same period, more people than usual (roughly 40% of UK adults) have uploaded their own video creations.  

 

This realisation of untapped creative potential underlines the learning and sharing value of the Art sector. Courses such as Digital Film from the Open University seem to have helped further inspire and encourage would-be creators.   

Likewise, a series of short films created during lock-down for the BFI’s #ShortitOut campaign are available online. Oriented around the tagline “Just because it isn’t cinema, doesn’t mean it’s not real,” a series of interviews, guides and films encourage people to make more use of short film as a means of self-expression.

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Arts and Crafts

In a bid to create increased connectedness for all, Sky Arts will be free to watch starting in September, while Wallace and Grommit’s interactive The Big Fix Up will also see an autumn release. 

For those missing the classics in the meantime, the Globe theatre continues to offer a daily sonnet, performed by actors on the streets of New York City. 

Art sites that became popular during lockdown are likely to re-emerge as favourites during August, to help keep children entertained while off school. Some, such as the Little Angel Theatre, include online video guides on making puppets at home, as well as online shows.

Meanwhile, despite mass cancellations of festivals and concerts, music performers and venues have found ways to stay connected to their audiences.

The Royal Albert Hall is offering free sessions from artists’ homes to yours and the Instagram live hip hop Verzuz battles, scored in real time by users, might prove entertaining enough to outlive the lock-down.

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These innovations and developments show an ongoing willingness for artists to engaging with their audiences by any means necessary. Though these experiences may fall short of re-creating real life performances, they still provide much-needed laughter, fun, and relaxation in a way that’s becoming integral to the Arts.

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