“Things are weird right now, aren’t they?

The sun is shining, but no one is out. Everyone is in quarantine, self-isolating, or simply shut up in their houses awaiting news of where we can and can’t go. So, in these unusual times where we can’t enjoy a trip to the pub or even to see our closest relatives, what have we turned to?

There are a variety of online events, creative family activities, sports workshops and opportunities to self-educate. Many organisations have responded by becoming digital. Families are using video conferencing to stay connected. Creativity has been our personal answer to Coronavirus.

In this time of crisis, we have all had to think outside-the-box on how we can re-invent the way we are living and working. We are finding new ways to connect with friends and family; even those who live just down the road. Out of this pandemic, everyone is pulling together in our different communities. There have been brilliant initiatives such as mutual aid groups built for the most vulnerable in our society. We have been supporting each other in ways we never thought possible, and creating new ways of living, learning and working.

In times of crisis, creativity and imagination help us to survive; in calmer times they help us to thrive. Participation in arts and culture can contribute to communities feeling safer and stronger and reduce social exclusion and isolation. Creative intervention can also have a positive impact on health conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s and depression. Arts and Culture can help to develop vital traits for future jobs, such as empathy, enterprise and individuality.

But what about those industries that foster creativity, help us to imagine, and create spaces for us to dream up new ideas? For years, the bones which hold the sector up have been stripped to nothing, as they have been regarded as unnecessary and as ‘non-core services’. We have seen the devastation caused to creative industries as a result of the pandemic, and its workers (who are often self-employed) are facing an uncertain future. Yet still, they work to create experiences online – shows, gigs, classes, courses. They work to continue to create meaning in our dramatically hindered lives.

My personal experience of working in Arts and Culture for Bristol City Council has been nothing but positive – I feel like I’ve truly been able to contribute to the arts and culture community through the work that I do on a day-to-day basis. I have also been able to make the apprenticeship my own and to tailor it to my passions by finding my own work experience opportunities. This has allowed me to get work experience with a youth theatre company I was a part of for many years and allows me to give back what they gave to me in the past.

We need to show our support for the sector. Once this is over, the nation will be looking to recover, and we can help! You could donate to your local theatre group, or to a community art fund. You could make a donation to the museums, or make a post-lockdown commitment to seeing a show once or twice a month. We are the key to keep the sector creating- without us, there is no audience for all the amazing, creative work taking place.

What I love and cherish about creativity is that it is indiscriminate. Creativity doesn’t have a race or an age. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your experiences are; everyone has the ability to create, invent, explore and discover. This crisis, while devastating, has shown us that we can create new ways of making us happy. There is an opportunity for creativity now, and for a change when we return to ‘normality’. In the meantime I encourage you to turn to those organisations that are the lifeblood of our nation’s imagination and give them whatever you can; you’ll need them on the other side.”