Hello, friends. I’m diving in head first today because there’s a lot I want to cover. A quick content warning — the end of this blog entry contains discussion of police brutality in the United States and links to resources and news coverage that may contain sensitive imagery that may be triggering. Let’s get to it.
Covid-19 and Support for Artists
The arts support you through difficult times. Now we need you to support the arts. For ways you can take action see http://ncfa.ie #SAVETHEARTS With thanks to #RTESupportingtheArts
Posted by National Campaign For The Arts on Wednesday, June 3, 2020
The NCFA continues to amaze me. I’m watching my social media channels swell with support for the new NCFA (National Campaign for the Arts) campaign and their recently published 13-point proposal for sector survival and recovery. On Facebook alone, their (very slick – kudos) video has been shared 137 times in less than 24 hours by an impressive array of venues, production companies, advocacy groups, festivals, and individuals. And if you’re reading this blog, you probably have at least a bit of an interest in the arts, so I’ll take this tiny fraction of digital space to encourage you to share the campaign on your own platforms.
Written by Toner Quinn for the Journal of Music on May 28th. This is a really important read for anyone who has an interest in the protection of content and the exploitation of artists. This war has been raging in the music industry for years with high-profile individuals like Taylor Swift taking very vocal and very public stances against the music industry, but with the pandemic driving artists from a broad scope of disciplines to disseminate their content online, the interests of artists must be protected. And the funding bodies who offer dissemination opportunities must take that responsibility seriously.
In the last week there have been a number of very well articulated statements speaking out in favor of protection of preservation of the arts, so here’s are two in particular that stood out to me:
The Arts Council has reallocated the funds from Round 2 of the Artist in the Community Scheme to make more funds available for a new group of funding schemes intended to better support the wider ecology of the sector and move us towards higher chances of survival as the country makes its small steps out of lockdown.
And for those of you with an interest in international theatre news, some changes are being made to touring contracts in the UK to allow more flexibility for performers and stage managers. The revised terms, made in agreement with Equity, include fixed pay rates until April 2022, new cancellation policies, and specific clauses around force majeure. Click the link above to read more about it.
Vision for the Future
“The pandemic may have dealt us a knock-out blow, but with help locally and nationally we can get back on our feet – and make Galway an even bolder, even more creative and even more inclusive city than before.”
– Fergal McGrath, Town Hall Theatre Galway
As we all navigate these unprecedented times, we must not allow the conversation to be Dublin-centred. Galway is a critical part of the arts environment here in Ireland and all too often, venues, makers, and organisations outside of the capitol city are widely overlooked. For much better informed updates on what’s happening outside of Dublin, check out my colleague Janice de Bróithe’s weekly blog Beyond the Pale.
A very interesting proposal from actor and writer Gerard Lee. I kind of like it. I especially like his comparison to wine bottle carriers. I think I could get behind this. If it meant being able to go see a live performance sooner rather than next year, I’d definitely at least try it once. In the meantime, I’m buoyed by seeing festivals, companies, and individuals finding ways to prevent social distancing-friendly ways of making live performance. We’ve a few tricks up our sleeves, we artists.
Black Lives Matter
So here we are at the end of this week’s blog. This is the bit I warned about at the beginning.
George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020. In the past ten days, protests have sprung up worldwide and many artists and arts organisations have not shied away from speaking out in support of black communities in the U.S. and on their respective home fronts. And that is a good thing, but it’s also only a small step in the right direction. Systems of oppression exist the world over and without a dramatic restructuring of the way we learn, the way we speak, the way we see, the way we connect, the way we love, and the way we govern ourselves, the wheels of injustice will keep on turning.
Let this moment be a reminder — this has happened before. This has happened more times than we know. It will continue to happen unless we all do our part to protect and advocate for one another. And it is so important to understand —
This is about theatre.
This is about the arts.
For some, advocating for the vulnerable and the marginalised is equivalent to ‘weakness’. For some, empathy is seen as being a ‘snowflake’. For some, attempts to begin to correct hundreds of years of pain and oppression are nothing but ‘political correctness gone too far’. For artists, it is our job. We must use our platform — the stories must be heard. Artists, by definition of what we do, have a responsibility to drive positive change.
I cannot imagine or pretend to or understand what it’s like to be a black American. What I do understand is this — when I was 13 years old, I held my father’s hand as he died. And I relive that grief and that trauma all the time. But let me be very clear — I was lucky.
George Floyd’s youngest daughter, Gianna, is six years old. She did not have time to prepare for this. She did not get to say goodbye. My own father’s death is a visual memory that plays in my head like a video; but George Floyd’s murder is an actual video. And videos, unlike memories, do not fade and soften with the passage of time.
I am proud to see so many arts organisations and venues and practitioners and academies and funding bodies supporting the black community. But we have to remember that actions speak louder than words. We must act. We must see the changes that need to be made and hold ourselves accountable for driving that change. We must recognise the disparities that exist within our ecosystem and work against them.
Let me say again, as a reminder to myself and to my fellow makers — artists, by definition of what we do, have a responsibility to drive positive change. We must say their names. We must tell the stories. We must not be silent. Most importantly, those of us in positions of privilege must provide a platform for the most vulnerable, the most marginalised, and the most oppressed to tell their own stories, in their own voices. Without fear.
For the children whose fathers were taken from them,
For the parents whose children will never grow up,
For Gianna Floyd, I raise my voice.
Risk of being killed by police use of force in the United States by age, race-ethnicity, and sex
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America – Research Article
Scaffolded Anti-Racist Resources
Document created by:
Anna Stamborski, M. Div Candidate (2022)
Nikki Zimmermann, M. Div candidate (2021)
Bailie Gregory, M. Div, M.S. Ed.
Anti-racism resources for white people — added Sunday June 7th
Document compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein in May 2020
The Star Tribune
Minneapolis local news coverage
*This is a live resource base and will be updated regularly with additional links.