In Times of Turmoil, We’ve Always Looked to Art, It’s Time to Support the Artist.
Updated: Mar 22
With millions filing for unemployment throughout the country, it's clear that we're all feeling stress right now. But it's funny how in our times of stress, we count our artists. The term “Essential Worker” has been debated since the start of this pandemic to include positions that, in a non-apocalyptic feeling world, would be considered just jobs. Supermarket workers, public transportation, Sanitation workers, even UberEATS couriers were highlighted as the months have gone on to show that essential workers take many forms, with the same goal of providing a critical service in a time of need. There are those essential workers who have been essential well before pandemics and plagues, wars, and natural disasters: Artists.
At the end of the year, when everyone is looking for ways to support organizations, companies, and causes, consider supporting the artist around you.
Artist, or Creatives as we call ourselves, have been one of the longest standing ‘essential workers’ throughout history, although we may not be able to provide the physical needs such as food, water, or health assistance, we provide emotional and mental relief. Whether you find peace and comfort in looking at a visual art piece, a painting, animation, film, or a performing art such as music, dance, theatre arts, etc. Creatives are made available to use their art to bring something to you. Creatives constantly serve in a selfless capacity; taking the pain of the world around them, their neighborhoods, their families, their own fears, and building something beautiful with it only to give it away, back to the people. Recycling life itself in real-time; taking the ugliest parts of things and showing their beauty, or helping to foster an acceptance for what is. In order for us to do this, we also have to suffer through the same pain as the rest of the world, because it is through emotions and feelings where these works are born.
They have always been there, many times hiding in plain sight, taking in all around them just to give it back out. An essential worker is defined as the people working in hospitals and grocery stores, on farms, meatpacking plants as well as people keeping public transit, shipping, and utilities running. That is a very one-sided way of seeing essential. As a musician, growing in my craft and finding my voice over the years, I made the decision to make this a life and career choice and would hear similar ‘concerns’ from others about the decision. “You should have a backup...You know you probably won’t make much money doing that...That’s nice, but you should probably find a real job with benefits”, all things said, not with harmful intent but with ignorance in the delivery. I know I am not the only one who has heard these sentiments, some even point-blank discouraged completely by strangers and the people we may trust. Funny thing about that is, those things are usually spoken by people who don't identify as creatives.
We understand the reality of being broke, our art not being as successful financially as we would like. We understand that we could’ve majored in business, or social work, we understand that there are other ‘stable’ things that we can do with our lives. What those people seem to miss is that, if we settled for that life, we would be draining the parts of us that we share with the world. If all creatives took those words and listened, the world would be a less tolerable place in more ways than we realize.
Support seems to be the thing that lacks when it comes to creatives. People love to purchase art, go see a live music show or musical theatre performance, see a comedian, or read their favorite book when they are in a good mood or when they need to lift their spirits or distract themselves from their issues in life. We support. When you turn on Spotify on your drive from work to decompress from your day, whatever you listen to is someone else’s creation, created with the intent to reach someone, to hopefully make them feel. Answering the call of the people during times of need and despair by sharing more of themselves in their creative capacities with the world is what they do, with the sole purpose of bringing hope through their art. If creatives can lend support to people they don't know, through their art, they should be supported when they need it the most.
When Covid-19 hit, and people were forced to stay in their homes, where did they turn for their entertainment, their escape when there physically couldn't be one? They turned to the arts. Virtual performances, webinars, art links, free resources were created and given by the creatives who were also quarantined but felt a responsibility to give what they created in these times to the world as a way for them to cope, to smile, to hope. If they supply hope in our times of need, we should support them in theirs.