Power of Culture Blog
Physically distancing ourselves from one another does not necessarily mean losing social connections. Rather, it gives us all an opportunity to think creatively about what we can do and how we can connect in different ways.
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It is hard to believe that just a couple of weeks ago Mass Cultural Council launched our new Culture Rx Initiative, touting the protective and healing power of culture in the face of an epidemic of loneliness and social isolation. Today, the epidemic is COVID-19/the coronavirus and social isolation has gone from curse to cure.
We are all grappling with the unprecedented and rapidly changing challenges presented by COVID-19. How do we manage the sanitation of our facilities and the safety of our staff and audiences? How do we respond when fear provokes xenophobic behavior in our customers? Should we cancel our shows, close our doors, or reduce hours? And how do we navigate the financial consequences of dwindling ticket sales and cancelled shows?
I don’t have the answers to these questions. But I know that we will find them together.
Many of you are also concerned about grants you have received for projects and work you have had to cancel or postpone. Don’t worry. Just let us know. You don’t have to return the grant.
We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg of the financial implications this viral pandemic is having on our field. I have started conversations with key legislators to make sure that we are part of any emergency or mitigation funding package developed by the state Legislature. Many of you have sent me emails about cancellations, but the more information we have the more effective we can be in advocating on your behalf.
By Thursday, we will launch a Coronavirus Impact Collection Form on our COVID-19 resources page. You will get more details next week, but our goal is to collect up-to-date information on cancellations, layoffs, and any other financial losses you are experiencing. This way we will be able to continually update our report to legislators and key decision-makers.
We are all doing things differently now. In accordance with a directive from Governor Baker, our staff has cancelled all travel and in-person meetings for the next 30 days. When possible, workshops, trainings, and meetings will be conducted through the magic of technology. We still want to be in conversation with you, and we will do that by phone.
Finally, while we know that social isolation is prescribed as the best protective factor now, it is also true that the arts and culture are a powerful source of healing in these times of high stress and anxiety. We want to explore together alternative ways of delivering our essential services in the absence of the human touch and community that is so much a part of our work. Share your ideas and successes and we will share them with the field. In unprecedented times, creativity, and innovation lead. This is our superpower.
Thank you for all you are doing under the most difficult of circumstances. Please write and let me and your Mass Cultural Council staff contact know how we can support you, your staff, and your community.