COVID arts and crafts calamity in East Yorkshire
I thought I would blog about the impact of corona virus on the arts in East Yorkshire, and it is the same story that we hear across the United Kingdom as a whole.
Of course our first thoughts are with those who might be particularly vulnerable to the virus and the families and loved ones of those for whom it has already had serious or tragic consequences.
We are all now aware of the deadliness of this epidemic - the fatality rate in Italy has reached 8% despite that country’s isolation policy and its apparently excellent healthcare system. So no one disputes the need for the physical distancing, self isolation and the general air of caution.
Having said that the virus is going to wipe out a whole year for many artists and craftspersons and indeed people in many walks of life. Artists who already live on a threadbare income will suffer hardship as never before.
Artists and craftspersons rely on local exhibitions to show their work to people; but many exhibitions are now closed. For example I was looking forward to this exhibition of linocuts in Beverley Minster. It is now postponed.
Craft fairs cancelled
Many spring and summer art exhibitions have been cancelled due to the virus outbreak. The Staithes Art and Heritage Festival for example. As the organisers say on their web site:
“This is in line with current government advice to avoid unnecessary travel and large gatherings to limit the spread of the Corona Virus. While we are aware that by September the contagion may have peaked and the restrictions may be relaxed, this is far from certain. Even if it were the case, we feel the economic impact of the pandemic will continue for some considerable time to come and this in turn will adversely affect our Festival.”
Many provincial artists and crafts folk rely on craft fairs to sell prints, paintings and craft items they have made. With the craft fairs probably cancelled for the spring and maybe summer, a whole year is potentially wiped out, leaving only the Xmas period as a ray of hope.
Finally there are art galleries which are themselves businesses and provide a lifeline to artists and eclectic collections of high quality art for the public.
In the example here the Pannett Art Gallery in Whitby is now closed. In the words of the owners:
“Our first priority is the health and well-being of our visitors and staff. In light of the latest government advice we have taken the decision to close the Pannett Art Gallery until further notice with immediate effect. If the situation changes at any time we will issue further statements. We trust that you can understand the need for these measures and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”
Again I stress that we all understand and agree with the reasons for these cancellations and closures. But it is a catastrophe for the local arts and crafts folk.