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Six Feet Away: Pursuing a Career in the Arts During a Pandemic

written by Jenna Klein

This article was originally published in our 2020 summer issue of The Current. Read it here.

The year 2020 began for me, and many of my peers, with a full course load, internship opportunities, and jobs working within our respective fields. Artists, actors, musicians, and creatives across Columbus had big plans for what this year could create. How our influence could impact our audiences, how our voices would be heard, and what we would learn in the process. 

And then a pandemic hit. COVID-19 caused theater doors to close, music halls to fall silent, and art galleries to go dim. I believe that I speak for many when I say we as a community, a community rooted in arts and culture, were not prepared for the impact this virus would have on our plans.

As a student, my perspective is different from those more established in their field. I came to Columbus to attend a college that would train me to be an exceptional artist, to connect and build relationships with other creatives, and experience art within a community that truly acknowledges its value. I am still in pursuit of that education, that mentorship, that community, but I am six feet away from it all.

I attend classes online, I meet with my mentor over FaceTime, and I experience art in my home, on my couch with my roommates. I live in a house of creatives; actors, writers, directors, teaching artists, and videographers. We are all in the middle of our degrees looking forward with the same questions in mind:

What will the arts look like in a post-pandemic world?

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine the arts will ever go back to what we considered to be “normal”. It will be a long time before we are able to walk into a performance or gallery without the anxiety about our wellbeing plaguing us. However, the arts have always found a way to adapt to our ever-changing world in order to become what we need them to be. I believe this moment is no different.” said Liz Landeche.

“The biggest problem with all this is connectivity. Art is supposed to unite, so how do we unite when we can’t gather? As a writer, one thing I’ve thought about is accessibility in my writing. I want people to be able to perform what I write wherever they can in these uncertain times. That goes beyond subject matter into a broader, more simply compassionate aspect: sharing art with other people. How can I make everyone feel included? How can I encourage them to include other people?” said Theo Pound.

How will our generation of creatives help influence that?

“I think my generation is at the forefront of inclusivity. I think this is the first generation that really wants to care about everything rather than just being forced to. I can’t wait to see what art that creates.” said Pound.

“Our generation is guiding this influence. We have a real chance of changing and improving so much in our field because we aren’t looking at it like it’s perfect," said Caroline Mitchell. "We love the arts, which is why we want to improve the world of it.” 

Where do we start?

This question is almost paralyzing to me. We are living through a once in a lifetime event that will affect our lives, our children’s lives, and their children will read about it in their history books. This environment is not inherently conducive to creativity.

Pound thoughtfully said, “We start with ourselves: if you could, to the best of your abilities (in terms of creating art) do anything that would make this quarantine better, what would you do?”

Though it is not as easy as that, it’s a good place to start. As creatives, we know the value of time. Time with friends and family, time with ourselves, time with our passions. We can choose to look at this time as a gift. Think of the art that is still being created, think of the innovation that is coming, and think of what we’ve already overcome. I believe that when this is over, there will be a renaissance of art to be celebrated, and audiences enthusiastic to witness in awe. 

Here’s to that packed house. 

To the rumble of the audience heard from backstage.

To standing in awe of your favorite piece.

To food shared with friends.

Let’s hear the audience roar.


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