A note from Artcore founder and Artistic Director – Zahir Shaikh
In mid-March, whether we were prepared or not, the world as we knew it changed. The nation went into lockdown due to COVID-19 and business and non-essential sectors were forced to close down in lieu of public safety. But rather than focus on the immense, adverse impacts this pandemic has had on every person and every country, I would like to talk to you about how we, in our own way tried to overcome that. I believe that as an arts organisation we had a responsibility to our sector and to our community; responsibility became an ability to respond.
With 60% of our staff furloughed, our team bonded together and we responded as best and as quickly as we could. Over the last two months, we aimed to deliver, to re-engage, and reimagine art; be it in gallery spaces or within participation. We had an overwhelming response to what had started out as one singular exhibition and with that support, we developed ‘In Isolation Together’ into a 6-week festival. This festival showcased the work of over 50 artists in a carefully curated and designed online platform.
Our canvas was a screen and in some ways our possibilities were limitless; this was a new challenge but more importantly an opportunity to push ourselves. Seizing the moment, we released In Isolation Together- a direct response to lockdown and quarantine.
We did not forget that there was a big part of our community that relied on participatory activities; whether it was artists or participants. We found new programmes to re-engage our audiences, and have since released 64 sessions with more than 20 workshop leaders. This gave our audience activities and skills to learn and practice as well as financially continuing to support our artists during this crisis.
In this time, we stretched and nurtured our global creative network. We provided artists from a variety of practices, ages, and countries an opportunity to promote their work on our online platforms through Artist Takeovers. From Derby to Iran, to date we have had 32 artists who have shared their work and artistic journey with our audience and followers.
With everything we have achieved, we also had to look forward. While the world was on pause, we continued, programming our residencies and upcoming events either on to an online platform or in our upcoming program, Post COVID-19. At this point in time, we are waiting for the government guidelines to become public information in order to continue forward. We are ready for the next phase of the response, building our ability to so and begin a new chapter that looks to a new future together.