Taking time for art

I’ve just caught up with a report created last year, by Daisy Fancourt and Saoirse Finn, that confirmed something I’ve long-believed: we should all be actively participating in arts activities. I’ve not read the whole one hundred and thirty-three pages of the WHO (World Health Organisation) publication, the summaries have been enough.

Results from over 3000 studies identified a major role for the arts in the prevention of ill health, promotion of health, and management and treatment of illness across the lifespan. 

At the moment, as isolation becomes a watchword for so many of us, this might be even more relevant than it seemed when it was researched and written. After all, if we’re going to get confined to homes, we’ll need to find things to do.

‘I’m going to catch up on a lot of reading,’ Judy says, echoing my own initial thoughts.

Anna wants to try an embroidery kit she was given a couple of Christmases ago. ‘I’ll be able to concentrate without interruptions,’ she tells us.

Here in the UK, we’re still free to move about unless we show symptoms. That doesn’t mean everyone is continuing as usual. A lot of people who are vulnerable, or in close contact with someone vulnerable, are already opting to limit their contact with the general public.

The majority of the rest of us have adopted a Lady Macbeth approach to hygiene, and are practicing safe distances as we wait for the next development. Journalists looking for a fresh angle for discussion are beginning to consider the perils of isolation, as if it’s a new thing.

I suppose it will be for many of us. On tv, I watch shots of empty streets in other countries. Our Government Advisers warn that when the time comes, we will be ‘locked-down’ for months, not weeks.

As a tutor in Further Education, I’m used to providing a possible solution to loneliness. My colleagues and I offer a massive range of subjects, and draw students from a variety of backgrounds and situations. People sign up firstly, because they want to learn, but the social aspect soon becomes important, too.

As our classes are delivered in hired halls, we tutors meet only rarely. Our students create links between us, drawing references with other classes, often opening new angles of investigation to discussions.

Adult education classes are friendly places. Shared interests draw together people who might never have met in any other way. In the break, over coffee, the conversations extend and new friendships blossom.

Humans are, I believe, a social species, deny it as we sometimes try. This week has been brightened, for me, by the video-clips from Italy of quarantined people sharing music and song, often from their balconies.

This seems to chime with that WHO report about what ‘the arts’ mean to us, and maybe offers a clue to that question of how we cope with isolation. After all, here I am, discussing the situation with you on-line. Maybe this is a moment when technology comes into its own.

21 thoughts on “Taking time for art

  1. How true! As someone pointed out, whether accurate or not, during a plague time (definitely not the 1665 one!) Shakespeare wrote King Lear. I wonder how many books, works of art and music pieces will be written over the next few months as we all self-isolate and give ourselves time to muse.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you Cath for sharing your thoughts and reflections with us. I couldn’t agree more with your views on the arts/creativity and further education courses. Loving those Italian “community spirit” singing videos. Warms the heart for sure! Blessings always, Deborah.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Art usually is a lonely endeavor, and it helps keep stress at bay. Reading or writing helps me put aside my troubles, so for me, that’s totally true. I’ve heard some music – often with humor – about the virus, and I believe many more will come. It helps relieve tension – and we’re back to square one. Stay safe, my friend.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Cath it will be so good to harness the positive power of technology and encompass its benefits as a social link. It won’t entirely replace the coffee break but at least it could synchronise it ( provided you don’t rely on Dali’s clocks to time it 😉). Simultaneous slurping might help fend off loneliness?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. The arts are a sad victim of education cuts here. An easy way to address budget issues without any positive results. Sigh.

    So many changes around here. We-all just need to calm down.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Seems like the arts always offer an easy way to save funds, that’s why this report seems like such a valuable find. I only hope it doesn’t get lost, over the next few months.


  6. We are sort of on lockdown here in California now, although we can still go out for essentials like groceries and medication. I had to go to the pharmacy today and they were letting one shopper (or family) in for each shopper (or family) who left. Meanwhile at the nearby hardware store (also an “essential” business) people were just coming and going normally. Strange days.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I know that creativity has been a source of survival with us–music, drama (mainly comedy), art…all these things help us express when we cannot simply do so verbally. We need these outlets, desperately, from very young onward.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Taking time for art – Wilfredo Santa Gomez MD

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