There are certain things in life that have an impact on all of us. Such as the death of Princess Diana, the destruction of the twin towers on 9/11 and of course Covid-19. These are the sorts of things that, if we ever have grandchildren, we’ll probably sit them on our knee and say: “I remember the day when lockdown all started and theatres, arts centres, hotels, restaurants and leisure centres had to close.”
For those of us working in the arts (or any of the aforementioned industries) who have been furloughed this is a strange experience. It is a period when we have more time on our hands than we have ever had. A time when we have to rely on the hard work of the colleagues and key workers who remain working; and deal with the sense of guilt we feel for not being there with them. And for many of us during this time we will have to address the lack of motivation to remain active and upbeat throughout each day.
However, it is really important for us as artistic individuals to remain motivated and creative for the sake of our organisations and our own wellbeing. It is also really important that we use this time wisely and prepare for the moment our organisations can open again. We must be under no illusions, we’ll hardly be picking up from where we left off. It is more likely we will have to rebuild our work in the new normal context. During lockdown many people will have devoured so many streamed box sets that I believe there will be a hunger and desire for live arts and shared experiences. We shall be going from famine to feast. So are we ready to meet that demand?
With this in mind it’s important that we stay motivated. Which leaves us with the question of what to do now? How do we stay motivated while furloughed? Well, having been furloughed myself since the end of March these are my tips for staying inspired during lockdown:
1. Be grateful for the things you have from your TV to your family. They all count.
2. Don’t be afraid to find out what others are doing in creating an artistic response to this time. Some of the organisations who are creating great work right now are The Little Angel Theatre, The National Theatre of Scotland and Creation Theatre Company to name but a few.
3. Stay connected by calling your friends and family.
4. Write up your own ideas of things to do when you return to work. Having a written strategy to refer to never hurts.
5. Think about the advice you would give your best friend now and do it.
6. Volunteer (if you’re able to) for your local food bank or any other organisations helping with the Covid-19 crisis.
7. Sign up for an online course. There are some excellent courses out there and many that are free. Look at Future Learn or Open Learn from the Open University for plenty of free courses.
8. Enjoy now. Especially if you are at home with your children and having to home school. The time together will be very important for the development of your children’s relationship with you.
9. Find a book you’ve never had the time to read. Just think if you’d started War and Peace at the beginning of lockdown you may have finished it by now…….
10. Email your colleagues who aren’t furloughed and thank them for all they are doing. Your encouragement will go a long way.
These are just a few of the things I’ve found that have helped. This time is not a simple walk in the park, there are many hurdles to overcome; but it will be over eventually and when you do come out of lockdown the last thing you’ll want to think is “If only I had a bit more time……..”
David Durant, Associate Director for The Courtyard Arts Centre Hereford.