Distraction Therapy (2)

With increasing tier levels followed by another lockdown, the hope of theatres reopening this autumn, fully up and running by Christmas, has evaporated. The new lockdown meant postponement of my in-person working day in a theatre, a bitter blow. Back in lockdown at home, I have been able to engage with the work of organisations across the UK. My highlights are below. 

As part of City Lit’s Mental Wealth Festival, The Creative Arts, Wellbeing and Mental Health bought together three visual artists and a writer to discuss the arts, wellbeing, mental health, lockdown and creative recovery. The chance to listen and engage with the creativity and creative practice of others is something I really miss. Furthermore, this webinar taught me that whilst some are finding the current crisis a time of great productivity, others are finding it impossible to create; and that is fine. If you can, check out speaker Mark Titchner’s 2012 project “Please Believe These Days Will Pass” also on Instagram; which took on a new significance in 2020.

The Baring Foundation, an independent grant-making foundation, launched its report Key Workers: Creative Ageing in Lockdown and After, plus an accompanying webinar, which examined how arts organisations working with older people have moved to deliver their work after 23rd March’s lockdown and the challenges they have faced to deliver this work.

What is it about art & culture that can make a difference to our health? discussed the evidence and impact of art participation in making a difference to participant’s health; as part of Beyond Measure, a programme of digital events exploring research and evidence in culture and health. The programme was a co-production between Cultural Institute with Leeds Arts Health and Wellbeing Network and the Centre for Cultural Value.

In Key Workers, you could not help being impressed in the innovative ways that arts organisations have acted and adapted to keeping supporting the most vulnerable in society; and moved by the attendee, who is a full carer to her mother, who lives with Alzheimer’s, speaking about how valuable the creative sessions have been to both of them. In Beyond Measure, a teenage and an adult carer both spoke about how arts engagement had supported them as carers. If I have ever doubted the value of creativity and creative workers as contributors to health, mental wellbeing and social wealth, these two webinars reminded me of how powerful and critical the arts are to us as individuals and to society as a whole. 

As talk turns to rebuilding post Pandemic, I have unexpectedly developed an interest in social economics. In the RSA President’s lecture, the co-founder of Donut Economic Action Lab Kate Raworth set out a set of core principles for creating economies that are regenerative and distributive by design and how this idea is spreading around the world. This lecture gave me the greatest hope I have had for many months; just maybe the Pandemic recovery can lead to a more equal, more content, more creative society.

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