How can artists help fight COVID-19 crisis?

If I share a post on my Instagram Stories with the #BlackLivesMatter, will that really matter to my followers? If I retweet something about stopping animal harassment, will that really bring a behavioral change in the lives of my followers? In the same way, if I create a podcast episode about how we can contribute to fighting this COVID-19 crisis, how many of you will take some action or at least start to think about taking action?

Don’t get me wrong.

I have already donated to multiple fundraisers, I have signed more than 20 online petitions, I have retweeted and shared a lot of posts on my social media to 'spread awareness', but how do I measure the output of my efforts? How do I know that me retweeting something, will educate others about these issues? Because I am watching the whole world burn in the day time and I rant something on social media, some people reshare that post or retweet that and I feel Oh Wow Aaj Mene Kya Mobilize Ki Hai Community Towards a Great Cause Bla Bla Bla and I sleep at night peacefully thinking #MainBhiActivist

But the lines of being an activist and being a social media influencer are so blurred right now that I just wish to write @#$*#&% here

To simplify this whole conversation, I am going to pick one issue and I am going to pick one segment of our society to see how we can do more than just being hopeful. The issue that we are choosing is COVID-19 and the segment that we are choosing is artists, so we are going to see through some examples how artists from around the world are helping fight this COVID-19 crisis? Because I really feel racial discrimination, animal killings and internet scams can be put to an end through policy and good governance but this is an invisible enemy we are fighting and we are far from winning the COVID-19 war. I am NOT saying the other issues are not important.

The first example that I want to share with you all is about the #DontGoViral campaign by UNESCO where it asked content creators to fight the spread of misinformation, This is probably the best social campaign I have seen during the COVID-19 crisis and it is completely crowdsourced, it has clearly defined goals and is purpose-driven with easy to follow steps. It has four steps, first where you create animation or a song or a design or a poem. Second, share that piece of content using the hashtag #DontGoViral. Third, share your raw content piece so that other creators can reuse it or remix it. Fourth, involve more people.

Listen to this message by Bobi Wine who is a musical artist and member of parliament from Uganda, I want to repeat that he is a musical artist and also a member of parliament, comment below if you know an Indian Member of Parliament who is also an artist.

The second example I want to share with you all is of the Vietnamese artist Loduce Heep where

He says “After the government called for people to stay at home to help prevent COVID-19, I was browsing social networks and saw many people still gathering and going out to coffee shops and restaurants that really bothered me, I wanted to make something that can raise awareness and inspire people to do the right thing, I chose the propaganda style because it’s familiar to Vietnamese people and this style always invokes patriotic emotions.” Another painter from Vietnam joined forces with the ministry of health and Vietnam Stamp Company to work on two designs, each with the aim of “sending clear messages of solidarity in the fight against COVID-19.” One shows medical workers busy testing for coronavirus; behind them a clenched fist rises, symbolizing resistance, and defiance.

They add “In Vietnam, the government says we are at war with the virus, so as artists our job in a war is to draw,” I think that’s a brilliant statement by him

So as artists our job in a war is to draw.

The next example is of an artist from Thailand who took the COVID battle to the streets with his wall art. His murals serve as a reminder that efforts against the virus are not over and everyone has a role. He says "I want to play my part in reminding people about the situation and recording the history that we helped each other by staying home to stop the spread of the virus," He adds There is a huge gap between art and the ordinary people and that is why I put the artwork on the streets, at places where people sitting in cars will see it while driving past”

Not just in the visual arts space but musicians and rappers from Africa have also joined this fight against COVID-19 by creating songs spreading awareness about public health safety.

Now similar things are also happening in India probably we might have missed checking these out but you should check this artist from Bangalore whose name is Baadal Nanjudaswamy. I think he is absolutely brilliant and phenomenal at his street art creations. If you must have seen a video where a guy is moon walking on Bangalore streets, it is this person. He also painted a life-sized crocodile in the middle of a road after civic authorities failed to repair a pothole. I found it hilarious and outstanding at the same time. I think it’s the greatest example of artivism in today’s time from India.

Another thing I stumbled upon from India was this campaign #DesignFightsCOVID and I think this is also a brilliant initiative. So I spoke to Aditya Mehta, who is the Founder of Art and Found which has initiated this #DesignFightsCovid campaign. You all can check this campaign from their website or their Instagram page and you can listen to my conversation with Aditya, which is also the second episode of our Podcast 'When We Met'

If you are unable to play the episode from the above link, you can listen to the podcast When We Met on HubHopper or Spotify or Google Podcast or Apple Podcast or even on our YouTube channel. Please feel free to connect with me on Instagram or subscribe to my weekly newsletter and I would be happy to help you in any way with your creative burnout problem. But most importantly stay safe and take care.

When We Met is a weekly podcast show produced by Platform For Artists where we talk about the topics are relevant to the Indian Art Culture. New episodes release every Friday on all audio platforms, if you liked this episode or have any recommendation for guests, feel free to DM us on Instagram.

The next episode will release on 12th June which is about 'How can Freelancers get gigs during COVID-19 crisis?

Stay Tuned.

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