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Digital Media and COVID19 – What’s The Way Forward In Performing Arts???

Social distancing, staying indoors is the talk of the hour, how are artists, theatres, dance companies, orchestras, festivals, clubs, venues, concert halls, auditoriums and opera houses, going to survive?

As an artists, we are doing our best to keep up the mental stability and stay indoors yet the quest to create and get connected to the audience still remains. It seems like Instagram and Facebook is the New Concert Stage; the new platform, the new medium to experience music and dance. Is this the way forward? Will this gobble into the live concert format? Does it have the magic of a live experience? Do we like the fact that we get to applaud and comment and watch our favourite artiste play music or perform from the comfort of our home?

The Indian Classical Dancers Association of India is headed by Shri Gopakumar from Kerala and Ms.Charanya Gurusathya from Pune, is the coordinator head of the Maharashtra and Gujarat Chapter. The association conducted a panel discussion during this COVID19 scenario on how digital media helps dancers and artists and what are the new methodology and pedagogy that needs to be implemented?

The panel consisted of more than 100 classical dancers sharing their views globally from all parts of the world representing India, UK, USA, Canada, Germany, Singapore, Malaysia & Dubai lasting for a period of 11 days from 28th May 2020 to 13th June 2020.

The insight into art explains the numerous initiatives proposed by the senior Gurus & budding dancers to connect with their audience in a different way. Major pointers have evolved out of these discussions in order to sustain art in its entirety to the future generation.

  • Online literacy and effective usage of digital media to conduct regular classes on apps like Zoom, Google Meet, Skype. Microsoft Teams
  • Organizing workshops, lectures, demonstrations and a mega national dance festival online.
  • The possibilities of organizing fundraising programs through online should be studied.
  • Approach the India tourism department requesting them to organize funded dance festivals in the digital platform.
  • Indian Council for Cultural Relations and SPIC MACAY can organize events and help fund artists for whom dance & art is the sole source of earnings.
  • A need to approach Ministry of Culture and try to bring in policies for Artists, allow them to take classes for 10students at a time and 100 people in audience maintaining social distancing norms, once the COVID19 situation eases.
  • Cater to providing some remuneration to co-artists (musicians) and technicians (light, sound, makeup) who are involved with Dance Productions and live performances is the only way of income for them.
  • Offer the Facebook/ Instagram live platform to the amateurs and budding dancers, students, it acts as a motivational factor for learners.

The artists are, for sure, going through a very hard time, Live performances are what keeps their finances flowing. With all live events being cancelled, social media is abound with digital concerts. Several artists are performing for their fans virtually, converting their living room into a stage. So many excellent productions and performances have been made easily available online, and for free, this is of course slightly disturbing for a field that is soon going to have to restructure itself. Senior Artists need to rethink on Free Live Performances, this will make the audience view dance in totally different perspective and in future people may not be willing to pay and watch good performances. With free access available to a whole concert series, how does one restore the audience to pay for this art? How will the art industry monetize online performances when patrons are spoilt for big error is already made.

There is a huge impact on the production team, lighting personnel, makeup artists, costume designers, people who generate income for the artists, art workers and organizations involved through ticketing, advertising team so on.  These sources of income may not be there if these activities do not take place and could lead to large scale unemployment.

When nations financial economy is facing a big turnover and finding new methods to handle the financial risks along with beating the health risks, many artists are breadwinners, now in this current situation what could be the possible avenues for dancers and artists to maintain the inflow of financial income and continue to take up dance as a profession and cope up with the financial impact, will digital performances and shows help earn a living?

We are realigning the priorities to dance and the time spent on understanding the art in times of crisis. Digital media is surely taking up most of our time into understanding and approaching dance, a new way of staying connected with co-artists virtually despite staying indoors. As artists are we have going to continue to adapt to new digital ways and create normalcy?

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