Place of creative arts in Covid era

Tuesday August 11 2020
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The outbreak of Covid-19 has disrupted the ways through which the Ugandan society operates. Frameworks of social and economic interaction have been realigned to avoid the spread of coronavirus. The social, health, and economic challenges call for conscious reevaluation of the role and place of the creative arts in mobilisation of communities towards collective resilience and sustainable vision.

The pandemic presents an opportunity for communities to rethink the kind of country that we want to create moving forward. Communities need to initiate honest conversations on how to establish support systems and nurture a mindset that will encourage individuals to rebuild, reimagine, and nourish a sense of shared hope and optimism. The creative arts have to be at the heart of the narrative, which will frame strategic action.

Uganda is endowed with very rich creative art forms that have always rendered hands-on human perseverance and cultural consciousness. The creative arts are imbedded within the predilections of individual and collective imaginations that unite, educate, sensitise, and heal across demographic divides.

This has always been the practice within the African sociocultural milieu. The arts an incomparable places as a driver in deepening collective action, framing social and individual identity, signposting communities to pertinent issues and fostering an understanding and celebration of empathy, which is driven by collaborative creativities and performativities.

Throughout our existence, the arts have always been close to us. Whether through songs, dances, drum rhythms, drama, folktales, rock-painting, poetry, and other forms of artistic expression, the creative arts have always been an outlet for communities to express imagination, joy, fear, and humility and embody tragedies.

Hence, during this period of the pandemic, the creative arts are a resource that communities can unlock to give society a new direction and cultivate courage that will propel people into a sustainable future.

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Works of the creative arts are metaphors that capture human experience and existence. Creative processes immerse us into a world that offers the body, mind and soul a moment to think, connect, care, and grow. As people imagine new possibilities due to Covid-19, they have to position the creative arts at the centre of this reflective process. During the pandemic, creative works of music, poetry, dance, and comedy skits have rehabbed communities from excesses of social alienation and anchored individuals in conscious soul-searching.

The post-Covid-19 environment will call for more individual agency to engage (in) the creative arts with increasing regularity at all levels.

The pandemic should awaken us to the reality that each individual is born with creative instincts that drive our humanistic ambitions and curiosities. Families need to integrate the arts as a form of collective fellowship and sanctuary of innovative aspirations. With children and parents stuck at home due to the lockdown, the participatory arts provide a reliable alternative to imagine, share, exploit creative energies to keep hope alive.

Schools, universities, companies, churches, organisations, and other bodies of social gathering at grassroots levels should integrate the arts as they refashion frameworks for individual and collective well-being. The resilience of human spirit, strength of feeling and meaning of existence will become pure and real if we tap into the jewel that is the creative arts.

As communities re-emerge from the shackles of the current pandemic, individuals will need to heal, collaborate, rebuild, imagine, retool, recalibrate and reformulate what it means to live. The creative arts will lend communities agency to reflect on and mend the fragilities of humanity and fissures of social and economic disruptions.

The weight that the virus has exerted on communities should prompt us to rethink the importance of being creative and collaborative. The creative arts provide a blueprint that communities can use to explore the meanings and purposes of collective resilience, therapeutic innovations and communal support.

Dr Alfdaniels Mabingo holds PhD in
Dance Education and Pedagogy. amm1014@nyu.ed

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