We know that during the global crisis caused by COVID-19 it is especially hard on artists, performers and creatives who rely on public events like exhibitions and live performance to showcase their work, inspire them to create new artwork and as a source of income. We have gathered together words of encouragement, advice and resources from the creative community who understand very well the collective challenge we all face.
Everyone will respond to this challenge in their own way. Some of the advice and ideas will be helpful for you and some won’t. Just think of it as a big hug when you need it.
And remember we are in this together.
With lots of love!
Thanks to our contributors
Click on their names to be taken to their section
Prumsodun Ok, Oeur Sokuntevy, Natalie Pace, Nicolas C. Grey, Neak Sophal, Kate O’Hara, Sovan Philong, Chov Theanly, Annie Jael Kwan, Dana Langlois
Founder | Prumsodun Ok & NATYARASA
Photo: Lim Sokchanlina
“As artists, we are often so busy, constantly on the go. The silver lining of the pandemic is that it has forced of us to slow down. I see this period as a great cocooning—we, as individuals and as a community, have the potential to come out as bigger, bolder, and brighter expressions of our highest selves. To do that though, we need to use this time for much-needed rest, reflection, and contemplation. I have been using this precious alone time to dig deeper into who I am as a person and artist, into my dreams and visions, into my practice and projects. I understand that many of us are anxious—and with good reason—and that some of us do not have the privilege to remain at home. But I think it’s important as artists to recognize the beautiful things, the possibilities, that are always around us. I encourage all artists to use this time to recharge and refuel, re-chart and re-envision, and to practice more love and kindness for ourselves, the ones we care for, the strangers we share this life with, and the environment that nurtures us.”
PRUMSODUN OK RECOMMENDS:
I encourage artists seeking assistance to reach out to friends and family in the community.
“Help each other and people in need. The most important thing to get through this hard time will be community and community support.”
OEUR SOKUNTEVY RECOMMENDS:
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“This pandemic will be a defining moment in most of our lives. Our individual reactions and experiences of it may differ but what unites us is a sense of feeling our way through this. There will be repercussions, change and trauma. For us, as artists or arts workers, whilst we are used to precarity we are definitely more vulnerable. Our means to develop or share our work through exhibitions, commissions or jobs have been removed, reimagined or propelled forward. The endless news updates and divergent opinions create white noise and anxiety. What can we do to ease the discomfort? Advice is always tricky. Even when it is well-meaning it is inflected by personal experience.
In the spirit of sharing strategies rather than direction, I am trying to refuse the compulsion to do and to harness this into productivity. I am urging myself to make some time and space to begin the process of understanding what is happening. In a context where people’s lives, livelihoods and social networks are all under threat, this stance can seem to come from a position of privilege. But refusing to be told ‘how’ to respond, focusing on developing greater intuition and a personal response could be powerful: it has the potential to create lasting impact on future responses to times of crisis. The artistic work that follows can surely only be more authentic and meaningful.”
NATALIE PACE RECOMMENDS:
These two arts initiatives are both based on mutual support and sharing of knowledge or ideas which you may wish to observe or contribute to on your own terms.
Artist Support Pledge is an initiative set up by UK-based artist Matthew Burrows.
The concept is simple: artists are invited to post pictures of their works for sale for £200 or less on Instagram using the hashtag #ArtistSupportPledge. Every time an artist makes £1,000 in sales they then pledge to put back £200 into the system by purchasing the work of another artist using the hashtag. There are noenforcements, it is a system based on trust.
ART HISTORIANS ALONE TOGETHER
Art Historians Alone Together is a digital space for people to gather as a community to discuss and enjoy art and art history.
They are looking for:
– curators and archivists to talk about objects and collections
– researchers to talk accessibly about their research
– artists to talk about their practice
– participants to take part in discussions
Nicolas C. Grey
Facebook | Instagram
“This is a global crisis that has disrupted everyone’s lives around the world. One of its effects is economic, so you may find it a very hard time to make money. However, it is an unusual time as we are being asked to stay indoors more, which for everyone, even if you are in the performing arts, can be a good time to work on creative projects you may have been putting off. All art, be it drawing, paintings, film, dance, etc, need time to develop. So, while this may be a very bad time to make money it is a very good time to do some work for the future, when this crisis ends. If you are lucky enough to have the internet and a device it will be a good time to showcase some of your work on some of the free social media platforms, and develop a following. A lot of people are stuck at home so may have more time than usual to browse the internet. They will look at different artworks, then, after things have settled down a little, hopefully you may have more of an audience.
This is a good time for introspection (the examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes), and a lot of good art can come from both introspection and times of crisis. You may be able to see things about yourself and society that you have not noticed before that you can use in your work. Being mindful this is also not a good time to make overtly political statements. Whatever your circumstances, this is a good time to think about what you want to say or do in the future, and if you are lucky enough to have the space and time and materials, it is a good time to do work as well, if we can manage our anxiety.”
NICOLAS C GREY RECOMMENDS:
If you have access to the internet, try and use the free social media platforms to showcase your work like Instagram, or Facebook, or Tik Tok.
Click on the image above to learn about how you can promote your artist profile on social media.
7 Tips for mental health
This is a hard time that affects our mental health. If you do not have access to help, there are a few things we can try on our own:
1. This is an anxious time for everyone; you may feel it, and your family. Everyone will experience it differently, so try to treat people with love and compassion as much as you can. If you are a Buddhist, there are some good practices that can help with this, like meditation.
2. You can reach out to other artists, they may be able to help. But remember we all going through this together, so don’t expect much from people, as you can never know what their circumstances are.
3. Do your best to follow the government and NGO guidelines, we do this to keep our elders safe. There is a lot of mixed information online, try not to let it add to your worries or overwhelm you. Covid 19 is a very infectious illness but many more people recover from it than not.
4. Take it seriously but realize that it will not last forever, and if we all act in line with the guidelines, the sooner things will settle down.
5. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, remember you are not alone, and that most people are kind and are doing their best.
6. Do your best to cut down on drinking alcohol and smoking, although this may be harder for some people who are used to those things to manage their stress.
7. If you have a bad situation at home, try to find the time to contact a trusted friend
Tips to Stay Active:
+ Keep thinking about new work
+ Experiment and practice at home
+ Keep connecting with friends
NEAK SOPHAL RECOMMENDS:
Resources for photographers
Click on images to find out more
Director | Umbrella Studio
Photo: courtesy of Studio Revolt
“It really is a challenging time for artists right now. While the public event calendar is quieter and art sales can’t be relied upon as a source of income, it is an opportunity for creative development. This said don’t put too much pressure on yourself to create new work in isolation! Sometimes just slowing down actually allows new ideas to emerge in the stillness. Creative connection is just as important as creation right now and might be something to focus on. Have you ever asked for advice from an artist or curator you respect? Has someone ever asked your advice? Why not connect again and talk through your current ideas and challenges? Maybe now is a good time to create a formal mentor-ship relationship, someone to speak with regularly about your creative practice, your creative community, the art market and what’s happening in the world. Facebook Messenger, Skype and Zoom are all good platforms to do this while keeping your physical distance. No one has all the answers right now, but we can generate some together, planning for a resilient and sustainable future!”
KATE O’HARA RECOMMENDS:
The Australia Council is offering free webinars over the next couple of months.
Click on images to find out more
Artist and Vice-President of the Photo Phnom Penh Association
“In this circumstance, we all face various challenges. We can take advantage of this time to think and explore deeper artistic ideas for creating new artworks although we are not allowed to travel. The worthy thing for artists is that we have to find out how to express our personal artistic vision in response to this pandemic.
The most important thing at this moment, however, is that we all have to unite in order to fight the spread of this global crisis. Which we can do with our own knowledge and responsibility. The crucial task we have to do now is to keep ourselves safe.”
SOVAN PHILONG RECOMMENDS:
Resources for photographers
Click on images to find out more
Masters of Photography: Inspiring Videos Every Photographer Should Watch
Free art books from the Guggenheim collection
“I know this is a difficult time for you. Some of you might not be able to go out, or even you can go out, it is still hard to meet and associate with people. I think you miss your friends and family a lot. But I think this is a good chance for us to focus on our work and develop ourselves. For me, I still have hope and enjoy living.”
CHOV THEANLY RECOMMENDS: Here are some simple things that make me enjoy living even if I don’t go out.
1. Cleaning: I spend only 20 to 30mins cleaning and organizing my house, then everything looks great and tidy. It is important to do this because your house is somewhere you live and belong to. Better home better life.
2. Gardening: plants are my great friends, they give me joy and add beauty to my room. I enjoy watching them grow every day. You can search online for low light plants for you house such as: Pothos plant, ZZ plant or Spider plant. They are very easy to care for.
3. Simple cooking: if you are not working it can be a good time for us to cook. If you have never done it before – try it, it could be fun.
4. Reading: even I don’t go out I can still learn so much more about the world by reading. I enjoy reading about other countries, history, philosophy, arts and self development. I have learned so much! Sometimes it has changed my life. Recently I just found a very good book called The Richest Man in Babylon, that taught me how to work on my finances.
Click on image to be taken to video
5. Documentaries: there are some very inspiring art documentaries by BBC about European and American modern masters like Henri Matisse, Salvador Dali, Picasso and Andy Warhol.
6. Work at home: I went back to reinforcing my painting skills. I work a lot on the ideas but I also improve my techinique. Drawing is very essential for many types of art. You can go on YouTube to find ways to improve your drawing or learn about color theory.
7. Exercise or Yoga: it is very important for body and your mind to stay active. When the body works it will help to balance your mind. It needs work to keep life moving. It is refreshing.
8. Meditation: This is good time to clear your mind and filter your life. It is time to move on from your past to create a future for yourself. Working in silence is a very powerful meditation for me. It helps to clear negative thoughts. Life will be less distracting and happiness will follow.
Click on image to be taken to video
ANNIE JAEL KWAN
anniejaelkwan.com, asia-art-activism.net, @alikati, @asia.art.activism
“During this time of border restrictions and social distancing, there is a push in the art world to go digital, with an increase of stress on artists to make and show work online. I’ve had artists share how difficult this is for some of them, as it is not really their platform or that they have enough to worry about in terms of health and finances, but they are afraid to ‘miss the boat’ on showing their presence in the digital world. What I would say to artists now, is ‘Don’t worry. Don’t worry about forcing yourself to make work, or show work, or make and show work online. First and foremost, take care of your physical and mental health, and take care of those you love. Take time to rest, reset, replenish. Don’t worry about being an artist. Your creativity is inside you, and has always made you want to respond to the world around you, and it will continue to do so. First, take care of your survival and your relationships, and the art will follow soon.’”
ANNIE JAEL KWAN RECOMMENDS: Personal wellness resources
One Covid-19 doctor’s personal wellness to-do list
Learning for regeneration in the time of corona
MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR
Director and Founder, Creative Generation
“I have had the privilege of working with and learning from artists in Cambodia since I started twenty years ago. I am constantly surprised and inspired by their artistic visions and it is incredibly satisfying to bring them to the public in meaningful ways. I also know that it requires a lot of work and commitment, not just from the artists but from everyone involved in art production and management. Suddenly all of that is at risk. The global crisis we face now is one that challenges the way we work and engage with the public. It forces us to re-think what that means and how we will operate in the future. The Digital Care Package is intended as a tool that artists, creatives and arts managers can include in their personal toolbox for this transition. A tool that underlines the solidarity of the arts community to give value to what we do (or don’t do) in the present time and courage to face uncertainty with creative intuition. I am grateful to all who have contributed and the caring wisdom they have shared. Stay safe and remember we are in this together.”
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