Man is by Nature a Social Animal


While many of us have started to adapt our social routines as we move to working from home, public debates have increasingly gathered steam based on industrial leaders asking for urgent policy intervention to support the economic as well as public health crisis. Creative industries are one of many voices struggling to be heard. One of those we’ve been watching closely today is New Zealand. The New Zealand Government today announced a major spending package worth $12.1billion New Zealand dollars to support SMEs with up to 20 employees.

By my rough estimates that’s equivalent to £6 billion for a country with a population of just over 4.7 million people. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated ‘in unprecedented time, you make unprecedented decisions’. Chief Executive of Creative New Zealand, Stephen Wainwright said today that ‘No stone will be left unturned’ in identifying ways to support the sector with the Arts Council tasked with developing a plan to be shared later this month.

While museums and theatres close in the UK, for the past week, people across the globe have already been practicing social distancing and self-isolation. However, ‘man is by nature a social animal’ (Aristotle, Politics) and as such many artists have turned towards alternative modes of expression. The ‘stay at home’ advice/rule seems to have created two norms for social-distancing performing arts.

The first norm is online art, with artists and audience turning towards social media and digital platforms. The Metropolitan Opera and the Vienna State Opera are streaming performances for free, while a Canadian artist runs a page titled The Social Distancing Festival, ‘an online artists’ community made to celebrate and showcase the work of the many artists around the world who have been affected by the need for social distancing that has come about due to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19)’.

The second norm is mainly located in quarantined Italy, where windows and balconies set the stage for DJ sets and singing with examples been shared widely via social and mainstream media.

The Internet arguably plays a significant role in socialising, education and the arts during the coronavirus lockdown; however, it seems that balconies have also transformed into a key platform for distance socialisation and performing arts.