The needs perspective of the cultural sector; the economic loop and mental strokes benefit from the art | Opinion

OPINIONEINDHOVEN – Under very difficult circumstances, the cultural sector proved to be vital and robust. But the stretch is now pretty much over. Creativity requires maintenance. Artists also need perspective.

They usually manage to appeal to the imagination. They guide us through uncertain times, give our lives meaning and color, and see unimaginable possibilities and opportunities in trouble and setbacks. But that skill does not mean that the resilience of creators, artists and all the people in the cultural sector is unlimited. Creativity does not bubble up in them without limits and is not a panacea for all problems. Now that productions, performances and events have to be canceled once again due to the corona pandemic, it is not only a financial loss but also a mental blow. Because no matter how creative and inventive, an artist ultimately also needs perspective.

Vital and resilient

In the first shutdowns, the cultural sector proved to be vital and robust. While society tore at the seams, musicians, dancers, actors and writers – not to mention everyone behind the scenes – found plenty of alternative ways to give society moments of wonder and emotion. Very online, but also on the sidewalk, in the park or if necessary from a lift. New forms of collaboration provided new inspiration and new applications. For a short period of time, creativity was ‘hot’ and more were allowed to color outside the lines. Stages, theaters and culture houses were then content with half-filled halls when the measures were relaxed somewhat. Everything to keep visiting and practicing art and culture as a source of beauty, enjoyment and meaning.


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The many initiatives and alternatives, however surprising and innovative they may be, were mainly ad hoc events

Taped chairs in the music building in Eindhoven. © Rene Manders / DCI Media

But the stretch is now pretty much over. The many initiatives and alternatives, however surprising and innovative they may be, were mainly ad hoc events. With the exception of the development of the online offer, we have not been able to support the best or most promising of them in their further development. Inevitably, there was the belief that we would get the corona under control and we would return to normal circumstances. But now that that perspective has not been promoted and all variants developed to keep the cultural sector physically open again provide no or insufficient comfort, this directly affects motivation and inspiration. If we are not careful, corona will push all creativity out of our society.

Creativity requires maintenance. It must be practiced in a continuous interaction between the creator and the audience. This is where the confrontation between fantasy and reality takes place. If we deprive the cultural sector of the space and the place to present itself, it affects the substance that together we find inspiration and meaning in, where we continuously learn, create and test together. The place where together we understand the art of changing direction. Exactly what we need so much right now.

Art expressions that can continue

It is therefore important for both society and the artist to regain perspective. Because if the cultural sector is allowed to reopen, but there is a risk that everything that is set in motion by the next peak in infection will be canceled again, it will ultimately do even more damage. With a complete lockdown, of course, only the online offer is left. But in periods when the corona leaves little room, it may be time to invest in artistic expression and cultural interventions that can continue even then. Initiatives that are guaranteed to remain untouched as long as there is no lockdown.

The corona pandemic, of course, calls for vigilance. For safety comes first. But if we do not take care, we will exceed and the measures will be worse than the disease. When the cultural sector loses its vitality and the artist also falls into gloom and loneliness, we ultimately lack the most important medicine to survive the crisis: creativity.

Henri Swinkels was deputy for Livability and Culture in Brabant from 2015-2019 and is director of Kunstloc Brabant in Tilburg.

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