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Arts-based approaches to supporting healthcare workers through a pandemic
Suzy Willson
,
Graham Easton
,
Sandra Nicholson
,
Bella Eacott
,
Eliz Hassan
,
Pedro Rothstein
, and
Paul Heritage

For more than twenty years, Clod Ensemble’s Performing Medicine programme, directed by Suzy Willson, has brought healthcare professionals and medical students together with world-class artists including dancers, movement artists and musicians, to share invaluable knowledge and experience of working non-verbally and working creatively to improve healthcare provision. This chapter will explore how Performing Medicine (PM) responded to the outbreak of COVID-19 and shares findings from Communicating through Covid – a collaborative research project undertaken during the pandemic. We share the findings of interviews with healthcare professionals and creative workshops with artists, which aimed to understand the challenges faced by these groups as a result of COVID-19 and to discover if there were lessons from creative practice that could address the challenges experienced. Informed by these findings, we outline our programme of creative interventions that were co-developed with a small group of artists. The research undertaken by a combined team of academic, artistic and healthcare professionals shows that arts-based strategies can play an integral role in recovery from the pandemic for those working in healthcare settings. The findings offer viable strategies to address critical issues and bring teams together who have been fragmented by the demands of the response to COVID-19.

in Creative approaches to wellbeing
Open Access (free)
How can community assets redress health inequities?
Rabya Mughal
,
Linda J. Thomson
, and
Helen J. Chatterjee

Community assets play an important role in public health and social cohesion. During the COVID-19 pandemic there was an increase in informal mutual aid across different communities while many individuals turned to salutogenic activities – such as art, music, being in nature, physical exercise, spiritual or philosophical reflections. Yet there still appears to be a mismatch between ad-hoc salutogenic engagement and that instigated by statutory services such as social prescribing. Community COVID was an eighteen-month research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project explored how individuals engaged in salutogenic activities from both a community and systems perspective, with a sub focus on marginalised and vulnerable communities (including those experiencing socioeconomic, physiological and/or psychological vulnerabilities). A mixed methods approach was used to capture the experiences of different people across the community. In depth interviews were conducted with seventy-four members of the community, a subset of whom were vulnerable and shielding. Art observations were carried out to test novel ways of understanding autobiographical narratives and pandemic experiences of vulnerable and shielding individuals. Further interviews, focus groups, workshops and surveys were carried out among participants and professionals such as social prescribing link workers, community workers, and other third sector professionals embedded within communities. There were several key findings from these data: (1) barriers to participation; (2) tangible benefits of salutogenic activities; (3) impact on loneliness and wellbeing; (4) an evolving health service; (5) adaptation of services; (6) a fragile community ecosystem; (7) a surge in social prescribing activity.

in Creative approaches to wellbeing
The ‘Restorative Museum’ and responses to COVID-19
Breda Friel
,
David Farrell-Banks
, and
Philip McDermott

This chapter presents findings from Museums, Crisis, and COVID-19 (MCC), a project at Ulster University (2020–2022) connecting academics, heritage professionals, curators, and community representatives to explore how museums in Northern Ireland can contribute to community resilience and wellbeing in the light of COVID-19. The pandemic became a chronic crisis that affected us at an individual, community and societal level. Traditionally, museums may not be the first place that people or policymakers might think about in the context of community recovery. However, the unprecedented nature of COVID-19 provided a unique opportunity for innovative, unique interdisciplinary approaches to community resilience to emerge in museum practice. Findings from the project are reviewed, including how museums and heritage spaces in Northern Ireland are likely to become important locations for telling the story of COVID-19 in the future. The therapeutic significance of such spaces in facilitating the commemoration of what has been a traumatic event for society and communities is discussed, including the importance of resources to support museums to develop new, innovative approaches which emerged during the pandemic. By consolidating the sector as future sites of wellbeing and renewal, it extends the multiple roles of museums in curating the past and engaging with disparate groups making them a location for people to reflect on the impact of COVID-19. Such roles, we argue, should be given greater attention by policymakers because of their importance in the wider context of supporting community health and wellbeing.

in Creative approaches to wellbeing
Rodrigo D. E. Campos
,
Sérgio B. Barcelos
, and
Ricardo G. Severo

Far-right politics has become an explosive phenomenon in Brazil since the presidential election of Jair M. Bolsonaro in 2018. This chapter analyses how conspiracy theories about environmentalism in Brazil found space in the far-right government (2019–2022) and impacted the country’s environmental policies. While far-right conspiracy theories in Brazil have been analysed in relation to their impacts on the 2018 elections, educational policies, gender debates and scientific denialism, there is still a considerable gap of knowledge about how the ideology of cultural Marxism is affecting the current environmental situation in Brazil. In order to analyse this issue, some contextual background to the inquiry is first provided to highlight the main threads of Bolsonaro’s environmental policy. Secondly, a theoretical account of far-right conspiracy theories is offered, and the main conspiracy animating the Brazilian far right – cultural Marxism – introduced. Thirdly, an overview of the Brazilian far right under Bolsonaro is provided, exploring the main conspiracy thinkers and theories related to the environment, showing how these have been instrumentalized by the government to advance the deregulation of environmental policies. The chapter concludes by reflecting on the impact of the far right in environmental activism and the struggle for land and recognition in rural Brazil.

in Political ecologies of the far right
The pandemic and beyond

The preface sets the context for the Pandemic and Beyond series and outlines how it is shaped by and sits within the research and funding landscape for arts and humanities during the pandemic. The series arises from a research co-ordination project funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and brought together over 70 solutions-focused research projects that addressed the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic between 2020 and 2022. The preface reflects on the unique conditions that shaped this body of research and the methodologies employed, and on the importance of arts and humanities research in addressing the human impacts that intersected in this moment, working to resolve them, mitigate harms, and examine some of the most fundamental human questions across macro and micro crisis contexts. It argues that the series exemplifies the creation of a ‘pandemic humanities’ that demonstrates how arts and humanities are a vital tool in responding to and preparing for complex crises.

The emotional toll of museum work during the COVID-19 pandemic
Elizabeth Crooke
and
David Farrell-Banks

As locations that interpret and present the histories of places and people, museums are affective spaces with emotional impacts shaping how we think about ourselves and others. The emotional impact of museums is primarily considered from the perspective of the visitor, with museums as ‘places where people go to feel, to be emotional’. What is less well established is the emotional resonance of museums as a place of work. Those employed in museums, cultural or heritage sectors can become rooted in their work, drawing upon their personal histories as motivation and inspiration, influencing the subject matter they engage with or the approaches they take. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the emotional labour of museum work was both exposed and intensified in workers’ responses to the crisis. This chapter is a consideration of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the museum workforce in Northern Ireland, drawing upon findings from the UKRI-funded project Museums, Crisis and Covid19, based at Ulster University. Focusing on the workplace, we argue, is another route to understanding museum impacts, purposes, value and ethics, an avenue that is barely touched on in existing museum studies literature. Drawing upon interviews, focus group discussions and workshops with people working in and with museums, from a variety of positions and institutions in Northern Ireland, this chapter begins to fill that gap in understanding.

in Knowing COVID- 19
Creating a framework for ethical and ecological telematic dance practice and performance
Daniel Strutt

When COVID-19 hit we all quickly adapted to using two-dimensional video conferencing technologies to connect with others. However, these social interfaces were, for many, an alienating experience. It was especially challenging within the fully- embodied discipline of dance, with practices stripped of the co-presence, touch, and physical communication that performers depend on. At this time, a Goldsmiths-based network of academics, dancers and creative technologists turned our attention to think about the kinds of motion capture and real-time, generative graphics technologies that could converge to achieve a more effective framework for remote dance interaction. We offered Goldsmiths Mocap Streamer, a tool to bring multiple performers from anywhere in the world into connected virtual spaces. While initially framed as simple solution to physical distancing during the pandemic, our research led to the consideration of transformational experiences for dance and beyond. Through a series of workshops and showcases we evidenced that we are not only at a point of sufficient technical and aesthetic advancement to offer high-quality virtual dance work, but  that this mode of performance also has potential to mitigate the serious climate impact of touring productions. Furthermore, collaborator interviews and Q&As revealed that a distinctive mode of choreographic contact and intimacy emerges through these remote practices that have the potential to cultivate unique structures of empathy and awareness. Thus, we ask, can ‘dancing in the metaverse’ now develop as not only legitimate and ecological, but also as an ethical form of dance practice? 

in Adaptation and resilience in the performing arts
Incorporating the voice of the child
Claire Bessant
and
Rachel Allsopp

Data-driven decision-making was central to the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many decisions, informed by data but made without reference to children’s views, had a significant, negative impact upon children. Pre-pandemic some children had already expressed concern that politicians were not considering their views and interests. During the pandemic, the government’s reliance upon data, combined with its pre-disposition to view children as incapable of contributing meaningfully to debates on matters affecting them, and thus its propensity to take decisions without considering children’s views and interests, meant many children felt they had not been heard or respected. This chapter discusses the findings of a small-scale study which sought children’s views about the government’s data-driven pandemic response and confirms that some children want and expect the government to consider their views about matters affecting them, including how their data are used. Although, pre-pandemic, significant concerns were being raised about commercial collection and analysis of children’s data, little attention has previously been given to public sector use of children’s data. The UK government’s response to the COVID-19 emergency has highlighted the complex relationship between public sector data-driven decision-making and children’s participatory rights. Assertions that it will continue its data-driven approach post-pandemic justify a renewed focus both upon the state’s use of children’s data and upon how children’s views feed into state decision-making. This chapter calls for the government to respect its obligations under the UNCRC and ensure that decision-making is informed not only by data but also by children’s views and interests.

in Governance, democracy and ethics in crisis-decision-making
Melanie Smallman
,
Cian O’Donovan
,
James Wilson
, and
Jack Hume

Has data ethics been a casualty of COVID-19? Data have played a central role in how we understand, mitigate and adapt to COVID-19. For instance, it was critical to the work of new public infrastructures such as vaccine certification systems and test and trace infrastructures. Aggregated data about individuals provided the basis for priority shielding lists that protect people deemed vulnerable to COVID-19, and also remade the very categories of vulnerability on which decisions to recommend or enforce their shielding and isolation depended. But what happens in emergencies when urgency trumps careful deliberation? In this chapter, we aim to understand how ethics advice featured in decision-making and the governance arrangements of data use in such situations, arguing that a set of ‘emergency data ethics’ are needed to help guide thinking in a future emergency.

in Governance, democracy and ethics in crisis-decision-making
Azadeh Emadi

In-depth understanding of deafblind people’s perception and experiences of touch has become even more important due to coronavirus (COVID-19) and subsequent wariness around touch and social distancing. New preventive measures were introduced, such as 2-metre social distancing and meeting people only outside or in well-ventilated spaces. Due to the lack of suitable awareness, the specific needs of deafblind people were missed from the safety measures and government policies introduced during the coronavirus pandemic. The project that led to this chapter, Touch Post-COVID-19, addressed this gap by gathering and studying the personal stories and experiences of the deafblind community across the UK during the pandemic. This chapter highlights three stories from members of the deafblind community in Scotland and England, with a particular focus on one member for the sake of clarity. The stories focus on touch as a ‘visual’ cue that offers spatial awareness but is distorted due to imposed wariness on touch because of the pandemic. During COVID-19, governments did not recognise how the deafblind population processes information and failed to consider them in their decision-making. Touch deprivation, caused by rules such as 2-metre social distancing and the individual’s wariness towards touch, has disturbed their information processing and everyday activities. Consequently, the lack of considerate measures to include those with multisensory impairments pushed deafblind people into further isolation when this group is routinely excluded from society under normal circumstances.

in Knowing COVID- 19