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Audiences’ engagement with culture during the COVID-19 pandemic
Oliver Mantell
,
Anne Torreggiani
,
Ben Walmsley
,
Jenny Kidd
, and
Eva Nieto McAvoy

This chapter describes how audiences and the wider UK population engaged with cultural content during the pandemic, in both live and digital spaces, and explores how their behaviours and attitudes are evolving as we emerge from the crisis. Firstly, the chapter presents, contextualises and discusses the findings of the Cultural Participation Monitor, a bespoke longitudinal tracking survey of the UK population that analysed changing digital engagement habits alongside attitudes towards re-engaging with live arts and related areas of cultural life. Secondly, the chapter investigates social media engagement during the pandemic via an analysis of Twitter data shared across two hashtags, #CultureInQuarantine and #MuseumAtHome. It explores engagement between cultural institutions and members of the public over this time, suggesting how cultural interaction may have shifted during the pandemic in ways that could be meaningful in the longer term. Above all, the chapter tells a story about the kinds of cultural content and interactions that people found valuable in a period of unprecedented uncertainty and anxiety. It concludes by reflecting on what appear to be longer-term trends in audience behaviour and engagement, and explores the implications of these trends for artists, cultural organisations, funders and policy-makers.

in Pandemic culture
Open Access (free)
How did we reach the present crisis?
Pat Thane

It is sometimes believed that in ‘the past’ few people lived to old age, so the care needs of older people are a modern issue. Or that in ‘the past’ or in other distant countries at present, older people were/are cared for by their families, whereas in contemporary Britain they are neglected and placed in care homes or live alone. In reality in all known past societies substantial numbers of people were defined as ‘old’, but often they did not have; have always preferred independent living when possible. When they needed care, richer older people were cared for by servants, and poorer people in charitable institutions or workhouses. From 1948, in the Welfare State, they had free health care under the National Health Service and local authorities provided residential homes and community services for means-tested fees. These improved until the 1970s, but were never perfect. More older people had, mainly female, relatives providing care, rather than public services, but more lived longer, needing specialised care, which families could not provide. In the 1980s public services deteriorated under a neoliberal government hostile to state welfare, which cut and privatised them. After some respite under a Labour government, 1997–2010, decline continued to the present, worsened by the Covid pandemic to which older people – their numbers still growing – were especially vulnerable. Relatives work hard to replace services, often putting themselves under great strain.

in Politicising and gendering care for older people
(Un)successful community activism in Slovakia
Ľubica Voľanská

The chapter presents a case study of a senior centre/day-care centre in Bratislava as a subject of political debate on the communal level in the City Administrative District of Bratislava-Stare Mesto/Old Town. Its establishment in 1994 (connected with the then-unknown concept of active ageing) and its abolition in 2017 reflected the changes in the demographic situation in Slovakia and the resulting public policies of (paid) care for older people connected with its de-familisation and de-institutionalisation. The decision to replace the senior centre with a crèche pitted two age groups against each other, which made the public discussion about the persistence of the centre or its abolition extremely complicated. Thus, the closure of this institution represents an example of an ageist approach. However, the decision triggered a reaction that was unprecedented for Slovakia, initiated by the centre’s older adults themselves and the community concerned – challenging the idea of older people being passive and not interested in the res publica, in the sense of ageivism, as suggested by Israel Doron (2018). The data was collected via ethnographic research: participant observation and in-depth interviews with the centre's seniors, their relatives, personnel, and a broader community of neighbours (2017–2021). The bottom-up perspective is used to understand the impact of the wider public setting and public policies on the regimes of care for older citizens in an era of intense transformation when the roles of the family, the state, and the communities were being negotiated.

in Politicising and gendering care for older people
The missed appointments of a French policy of care for older people
Christophe Capuano

This chapter sets out to solve a double enigma: to explain why, in France, there is such a high level of invisibility in the help given to older adults by family carers and professional carers, and to understand the absence of a large-scale public policy on all aspects of the issue of old age. For the second half of the twentieth century, the French system of care for older adults was based on three pillars that cost the state very little: local public and private actors, families and relatives of the frail, and low-skilled and low-paid employees. The injunctions to use home care to limit costs had important consequences on women, as they were the main carers among their relatives. This situation has been invisible for a long time in statistics and sociology of the family approaches. From the 2000s onwards, a new phase began, in which public debates and public policies were developed in response to health crises and scandals, but the adoption of a major public policy was still postponed. However, this contribution shows that families were suspected of abdicating their responsibility towards their elder parents. Ultimately, the absence of an ambitious national political project can be explained by the fact that the approaches to care for older adults have been guided more by a desire to limit the costs of public finance instead of a real societal choice resulting from a debate amongst the French population on this issue.

in Politicising and gendering care for older people
Tal Feder
,
Orian Brook
,
Rebecca Florisson
,
Siobhan McAndrew
,
Dave O’Brien
,
Gwilym Owen
, and
Mark Taylor

This chapter looks at trends in the cultural workforce. Starting with the enduring structural inequalities characteristic of the cultural sector in the UK, it then examines how efforts to stop Covid-19 affected different sub-sectors of the creative industries. The analysis reveals how each sub-sector experienced different consequences: for example, increased demand for working from home in publishing is contrasted with significant losses of employment in performing arts. The impacts of the pandemic created different dilemmas for the organisations, businesses and workers who constitute these sub-sectors of the creative economy.

The analysis is illustrated by several case studies. First, it shows what happened with overall employment and work patterns in cultural occupations and industries, charting the losses of jobs and hours across the sector and the impact on different demographic groups in the workforce. Second, it pays particular attention to freelancers, telling the story of the crisis in the performing arts where freelancers struggled to get adequate government support. Third, it looks at the impact of the government’s furlough scheme on jobs in the cultural and creative industries. Fourth, it explores the impact of the pandemic on trends in educational upskilling and retraining in the cultural workforce. Finally, it explores the state of the cultural workforce as the sector adjusts to the consequences of the pandemic. The chapter draws on secondary analysis of Office for National Statistics datasets, including the Labour Force Survey and the Business Impact of Covid Survey.

in Pandemic culture
The WHO’s decision-making during an emergency
Harry Upton
,
Abbie-Rose Hampton
, and
Mark Eccleston-Turner

The World Health Organization (WHO) has a broad, expansive role during a health emergency. Traditionally, the role of the WHO has been normative in nature, providing advice and guidance to member states on best practice during a health emergency. Despite this rather limited explicit legal mandate, the WHO does carry out a number of response functions during a health emergency that go beyond the normative, such as the procurement and delivery of medical supplies, and in some circumstances provides health services in a ‘boots on the ground’ manner. This chapter is concerned with the accountability of the WHO for the exercise of power during these ‘operational activities’. The chapter argues that at present there are limited control mechanisms over WHO operational activities during a health emergency. This is particularly apparent when the WHO operates through an external public-private partnership, such as COVAX, with this ultimately functioning to produce an additional layer of complexity with regards to the achievement of good governance.

in Governance, democracy and ethics in crisis-decision-making
Open Access (free)
Mapping innovation in arts provision in the Liverpool City Region
Josie Billington
,
Ekaterina Balabanova
,
Joanne Worsley
,
Antonina Anisimovich
, and
Melissa Chapple

This chapter throws a spotlight upon the rapid innovations achieved by arts and cultural organisations, from civic institutions to grass-roots enterprises, in response to COVID-19 in one specific city region, Liverpool. It explores the valuable lessons to be learned for practice and policy from the ways in which these novel solutions have stimulated a re-imagining of arts in mental healthcare in the aftermath of the pandemic. Liverpool City Region (LCR) has one of the richest concentrations of culture in the UK and a pioneering history of harnessing arts for mental health care. Yet, even before the current crisis, LCR had some of the poorest mental health outcomes in the country, and the highest concentration of adults seeking mental health services nationally. With the NHS increasingly overstretched, the role of arts and culture in providing stigma-free environments to re-connect the vulnerable and isolated, is more critical than ever. This chapter offers compelling case studies of the extraordinary adaptations to COVID-19 by arts organisations, their beneficiaries and health and social care providers. These dynamically responsive examples of regional arts-in-health innovations speak powerfully to a growing interest in understanding how a local arts-in-health infrastructure might contribute towards improved outcomes for individuals and communities. They also highlight our key finding and its relevance to the current levelling up agenda: the urgent priority of mobilising the transformative power of arts and culture for mental health and wellbeing needs through cooperative partnerships, co-ordinated programmes for social prescribing and targeted support for digital literacy.

in Creative approaches to wellbeing
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