Written by Maria Teresa Sanchez, Rural Discovery 2021-22 – Edited by Bianca Rêgo, ESC Wake-Up 2022-23
The sanitary crisis caused by the COVID19 pandemic has affected, in one way or another, some area of life for everyone on the planet. Each industry has been affected in different ways but the sector of culture, arts and creative industries becomes one of the most affected industries by sanitary measures because of the COVID19 pandemic all over the world.
So much so that, according to data from the project publishing by UNESCO together with MERCOSUR, IDBB, SEGIB and OEI, Assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on cultural and creative industries, in Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, 2.6 millions jobs related with culture or arts were affected and more than 46.500 Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI) remains closed since 2020.
Concerts, festivals, major events, shows, fairs, sporting events, festivities… Not a single cultural event has been spared from being reinvented, downscaled, cancelled or postponed after two years of on-and-off global lockdowns. Events are an important socio-economic driver and an exceptional showcase for tourism, but not only that, we are social animals and we need opportunities for collective celebration. After two years spent partially in isolation, with solace being sought online almost exclusively, and digital entertainment (as well as socializing) platforms expanding exponentially, the need to gather and experience collective cultural joy feels more pressing than ever.
In my personal experience, I started studying event management a year before the pandemic began. It was hard to see how the sector I had just chosen to work in was on the verge of collapse, and how the professionals in the industry were struggling to survive an unprecedented and unexpected crisis.
After two years of study and more than a year of pandemic, and with all that that entailed, I found the perfect ESC project for me: European volunteering in France for artistic, cultural and musical events: project Rural Discovery at Music’al Sol. This project was focused on the organization of cultural and musical events in rural areas, namely in the Occitanie region, mostly in the department of L’Aude.
When I arrived six months ago, my expectations were very high and I was very excited about my future experience here. At the beginning we worked on organizing the events that were scheduled for the new course: 4 festivals, several concerts and cultural events and a music creation workshop with children. But the sixth wave of COVID19 and the new Omicron variant was not something that could be prevented. From December onwards, we had to cancel all the events and the festivals that were scheduled for the rest of the course could not take place, so my main goal to take over this project vanished.
Like many other people in the world, especially in this industry, the sanitary crisis directly affected my personal and professional development. But it is not the end of the world, we can reinvent ourselves and look for ways out when faced with problems we cannot control.
The immediate future of events and festivals will be strongly dependent on how the COVID19 pandemic continues to evolve. Nevertheless, it seems that little by little the world is getting back on track with this new normality and soon we will be able to enjoy again the cultural events in their full splendor, which we have learnt their value and significance when we have lacked them.