Culture Commons is convening a nation-wide project to bring artistic, creative and cultural responses to the Covid-19 pandemic together into a new exhibition to submit them as formal evidence to the UK Covid-19 inquiry.
The arts, culture and creativity played a critical role during the Covid-19 pandemic. From internationally recognised professional artists to the work being made at home by amateurs and enthusiasts, many of us were tapping into our creativity to capture and make sense of the profound changes we were being forced to confront as a nation.
We want to spotlight the ability of artists, creative and cultural practitioners of all kinds to capture, make sense of and communicate the multiple impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic at different phases, in different UK regions and nations, and for different communities.
We will ensure that the Covid-19 inquiry draws on robust qualitative data, including through verbatim, testimonial and other types of formalised and codified artforms. This will make space for the lived experiences of the public, patients and their loved ones, health and social care givers and policymakers to be communicated in more human and expressive ways.
Over the coming months, we'll be scoping out the terms of reference for the programme in consultation with the UK Covid-19 inquiry team, and developing our partnerships to deliver on the overall objectives.
"What better way to communicate the fullness and complexity of our collective and individual experiences to the inquiry than through the art and creative works that were bubbling up 'in the moment'? We invite anyone who is interested in supporting this project to get in touch."
Trevor MacFarlane, Director of Culture Commons
Working in partnership, we will co-curate an exhibition and associated materials that may include but would not be limited to: in-person, digital and hybrid collections, combined arts, dance, literature, music, theatre and visual arts. Recognising that the work of professional and amateur artists and creative practitioners evolved during the pandemic, we will explore new forms of socially engaged work and the ‘everyday creativity’ that flourished in homes and community spaces during the pandemic too.
The work that we submit will need to be carefully curated to cover a multitude of artforms and be as representative of our national experience as possible in order to be credible and useful to the inquiry. We must also pay considerable attention to being inclusive when we come to think about the work that might be incorporated.
We will appoint an experienced curatorial team and work with a steering group drawn from across civil society to make sure the work reflects a diversity of experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK.
As well as submitting the curated artworks to the inquiry as formal qualitative evidence, we’ll be inviting the UK Covid-19 inquiry team to engage with the exhibition and associated materials throughout the inquiry period. In time, we will consider securing a permanent home for the exhibition to act as a record of this moment in history.
The UK Covid-19 Inquiry has been set up to examine the UK’s response to and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and learn lessons for the future. The Inquiry’s work is guided by its Terms of Reference which are published here.
As the exhibition and associated materials develop, we will produce a policy document that will be submitted alongside the qualitative work, drawing on the the subjects and themes that the artworks explore. By bringing artists and creatives together with decision makers, we will demonstrate how creative and cultural processes and outcomes can inform national policymaking.
For Culture Commons, this activity builds on our work in bringing the creative, cultural and research communities together with decision makers to impact policy for positive change. For example, in 2020 we worked with the Centre for Cultural Value and the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre on the world’s largest study into the impact of Covid-19 on the cultural sectors. In 2021 we worked with the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s ‘Pandemic and Beyond’ programme which saw us collaborating with 77 leading research teams to understand the impacts of the pandemic through an arts, humanities and social sciences lens.
Help us build this
Culture Commons are now in discussion with several partners within the creative and cultural sectors, the research community and senior policymakers to build support for the programme and convene a coalition of the willing.
We'll continue to develop our terms of reference in consultation with a wide a variety of stakeholders, paying particular regard to the lived experienced of minorities communities who were disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
If you or your organisation would like to be involved in the programme or would like to talk about the concept, please get in touch with us below.