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Culture

7 ways to support the arts and culture community now

The world is reeling from the tragedies of Covid-19, and the secondary impacts are proving to be calamitous for many workers and businesses. As the arts and culture industries continue to bring us hope, entertainment and distraction, the least we can do is ensure they are still standing on the other side. KATIE BERRINGTON shares seven ways that you can offer your support now

Lifestyle
The UK’s Tate St Ives gallery in Cornwall

Make donations

As a global audience, we have been treated to a wealth of free virtual culture of late, from live streams of concerts, gigs and theatre shows to digital exhibitions and tours. Consider, then, donating a proportion of what you would pay for a ticket to make sure the artists behind the work can afford to keep creating.

There are also many initiatives and charities offering support to those struggling in the arts industries as a result of Covid-19. The Film + TV Charity provides emotional and financial assistance to workers hit by the crisis, as well as industry advice. London’s Angel Comedy Club is another organization recognizing the mental, as well as practical, strain on its community. It is connecting performers to therapists and life coaches providing low-cost or pay-what-you-can online therapy, and continues to raise up comedians via its online platforms. Save Indie Books is an initiative providing economic contributions to independent bookstores across the US forced to shutter their doors in the current climate. And, in addition to financial donations, Arts Emergency asks people to give their time and mentor young talent in the creative sector to offer advice, opportunities and contacts that they would otherwise not have access to.

If you are able to get involved, arts charities are likely to be severely impacted by the crisis, so will value your support now more than ever.

Keep your tickets

With events such as festivals and art fairs currently postponed, stakeholders are set to lose out in vast numbers. Therefore, many venues and organisers are asking would-be attendees to keep their tickets or to donate a percentage of the price where possible, rather than asking for a full refund. The hope is that most shows will go ahead when it is safe to do so, so consider it an investment in your post-lockdown calendar.

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Become a member

Invest in your future cultural fix by buying a membership to the institutions that you would like to be able to enjoy when their doors open again. Theaters, cinemas, museums and galleries alike are asking people to sign up to their membership or ‘Friend of’ schemes, which, incidentally, also make a wonderful gift for a loved one to look forward to on the other side of lockdown.

Signing up now means that a whole range of benefits will be accessible as soon as these establishments reopen. London’s Old Vic theater, for instance, is extending memberships bought during this time to 18 months, while Everyman Cinemas will activate them when it can take bookings again. Purchasing a National Art Pass now will provide funds to support museums and galleries across the UK and will give entry to exhibitions that you won’t want to miss post-lockdown.

The Old Vic theater in London

Discover and promote new talent

At a time when opportunities seem slim for those just starting out in the creative industries, make a concerted effort to champion the newer names and rising stars. This is the only way to protect a rich and diverse cultural scene further down the line. Buy their art, books and music (Bandcamp is a good platform to find new artists and purchase directly from them); follow them on social media and share their work; take their online classes or offer mentorship if you are in a position to do so. Now is the time to exercise the power of community and networking.

Go local

The hospitality industry has been forced to adapt swiftly to the shuttering of outlets, including the majority of restaurants, coffee shops and bars as we knew them. Many are now offering takeaways and even groceries for delivery and collection, so it’s worth checking in with your locals to see if they are still serving. Some are also publicising their suppliers – from farms to butchers and wine merchants – so you can buy the ingredients direct from the source. Explore sites such as Dining At A Distance in the US and We Are Still Open in Europe to discover restaurants and farms that you can support in your area.

Moreover, many restaurants are selling gift cards redeemable against a future meal – in some cases increasing in monetary value by the time you come to use it. Contact your favorite haunts to find out if you can buy now and benefit later.

Purchasing power

As many of us use this unprecedented pause to hone our own culinary skills, look beyond your banana-bread recipe and snap up the cookbook from your favorite chefs and restaurants – the added benefit being that you’ll be able to make your go-to order at home. Scour the websites of your local bookshops and get in touch to ask their recommendations for your lockdown reading list (in the UK and Ireland, you can find your local bookshop on Booksellers Association). Go further by ordering and gifting a beloved book to a friend or relative for them to devour during this time.

Perhaps the hours spent between your walls is inspiring thoughts of a home redesign, or the desire to start or expand an art collection, in which case look to buy new artworks from artists or via galleries. To make a new discovery, scroll the Instagram accounts of arts colleges and universities to explore the work of their current students and recent graduates.

Use your words

Reviews are more valuable than ever to businesses and individuals in these unprecedented circumstances. If you have made a new discovery that is bringing some light relief to your lockdown – be it an artist, musician, book or restaurant – be sure to let them (and everybody else) know, so you can help spread the joy a little further.

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