Art is food for the soul

A sign on a Toronto theatre says: “Thanks to all of our front line essential workers ” But here’s a question. Is art an essential service? When the pandemic was declared Premier Doug Ford’s first statement was: “Theatres are closed.” Why was this prioritized? What’s happening to artists in Canada? But more importantly — what’s happening to the people of Canada? True, not everyone is aware that they need art. Some think they can get by with Netflix. Now that art has been clearly deemed an ‘unessential service’ by the government of Canada, it’s time to ask a defining question.


Is art essential?

Art challenges and inspires. It moves us, frightens us, and angers us. But most of all it opens the possibility of thinking outside the little boxes we all live in (yes — more and more now, day to day). Art allows us to step outside.

The ‘powers that be’ have urged artists to stay at home and put their work on computer. “You’ll be okay,” the wise ones say. But what if art can find no expression on a computer? What if your art requires living, breathing, thinking, laughing, people — in other words, an audience?

Art needs people, not clicks.

People need to be in a room with other human beings and feel together. It’s only human.



ART IS ESSENTIAL is a group of artists who have banded together during this pandemic to make sure that art becomes incorporated into the ‘new normal.’ We are told daily that no one knows how long this pandemic will last. We are told that we have to learn to adapt our lives to physical distancing.

ART IS ESSENTIAL takes up that challenge!
Theatres, performance spaces and galleries are closed. So what about warehouses, streets, or maybe even private homes? Here’s an idea; to start us off, why not fund playwrights, choreographers, librettists, composers, and performance artists to create works in which performers are always 6 feet apart? Here’s another idea — If 1000 seat theatres must only have 50 patrons sitting 2 metres apart — why not have a lottery for those 50 seats? If art galleries are too crowded — why not keep them open 24 hours a day? What ideas do you have? It is legal — and good for our collective health — to practice physical distancing and continue to make art.

ART IS ESSENTIAL — will bring art into the public forum again, where it belongs. Step out of the box with us!



By signing this petition you will indicate to Canadian arts granting agencies that artists need funding to create environments where they can do their work, environments that will function just as physical distancing is — by necessity - integrated into our new reality.

   Sign here