My country’s Prime Minister has just announced a complete 21-day lockdown where we can’t step out of our houses, no matter what. No word yet on how we’re going to get groceries, but I’m sure there’ll be some provision for that, because…well, what will we eat, otherwise?
These are really scary times. Not gonna lie. I’ve been trying to stay positive, but it’s hard to imagine a way out of this pandemic. So far, I’ve been spending my time writing, watching Netflix, reading, listening to music, and now since I’ve started my new job, working from home. I guess that same schedule will have to continue for at least the next 21 days.
As I try to power through with positivity, I’ve been thinking about the value of art, and artists.
In my country, very little regard is given to the arts as a field. I studied “Arts” (which is a stream subjects in our education system), and was questioned on my choice by a stranger in the train. She looked down on me for choosing Arts, and opined that I was better off studying science or business. But this isn’t unique to India.
Across the world, the arts is seen as the least valuable part of society: an indulgence, a waste of money, something that will never offer any kind of return. Something that only irresponsible people who fail at being adults would ever choose to pursue.
But in these dark times, the arts are the only way we can survive. Think of every time you’ve turned on Netflix or YouTube to kill a few hours. Think of the music on your Spotify playlist. Or the colours on your clothes or on your favourite posters. Think of the books that help you through a bad night, the photographs that help you feel connected in these times of extreme isolation, or of the food recipes that give new flavours to social distancing.
The arts sustain us, and it’s time society recognises that. Artists deserve to be paid the same as any professional. They deserve respect, especially because they are able to produce content even when they’re suffering the same fears as anyone else is. No matter what kind of artist you are, you matter. Your contribution matters. Thank you. Thank you for making this awful pandemic just a little more tolerable.