Can culture be confined online indefinitely?
For several months now, theatres and concert venues have had to shut their doors to Covid-19, resulting in severe economic consequences for the entire industry. But where one door closes, another opens, sparking a new (virtual) world of innovative cultural events.
Who, at the beginning of 2019, would have imagined that Broadway, New York’s famous avenue synonymous with the performing arts, would shut up shop and remain closed until September at the earliest? In France and around the world, so many shows, concerts and festivals have been cancelled. All cultural venues open to the public have been closed, some indefinitely.
An economy in danger
The health crisis threatens many sectors, and performing arts have been hit especially hard, from festivals to broader cultural events. What’s more, there’s the issue of income, which is even more pressing in the current crisis. For many producers, opening too early would be a disaster under the looming risk of a second lockdown. There would be further financial costs for plays or concerts put on without any audience. Worse, public confidence would be lost altogether, making all prospects of a return to normal very distant.
How social media is benefiting culture
With physical gatherings banned, culture has had to reinvent itself, and it found a new means of expression online. With so many performances cancelled, the Lorraine national opera asked for volunteers to put on shows. A simple online form enables you to book a virtual seat for yourself and a loved one. While in isolation, music has become more essential than ever, and many artists have taken to Instagram and YouTube to perform live. Performances grouped under the hashtag #TogetherAtHome have taken place around the world. In France, 3,600 amateur singers joined Jane Birkin in a lockdown virtual version of the Javanaise hosted by the choir of Radio France, Théâtre du Chatelet and France Musique.
More creative initiatives than ever
Due to the lack of opportunities in physical spaces, virtual initiatives have sprung up, making it possible to reach a wider audience. In a page dedicated to discovery, the French Ministry of Culture has selected a wide choice of cultural offers to enjoy at home. With a single click you can visit museums, watch films and documentaries and enjoy reruns of major theatre or opera performances from your sofa. Great examples of these include the Aix en Provence theatre festival and programming from the Paris Opera. For passionate fans of culture, the Orange Foundation also lists all of the latest initiatives it partners.