23 Aug 2020 01:40 AM

Safe Landing for Culture

Cultural practitioners and policy researchers have been taking battle after the other, to provide evidence on the socioeconomic impact that arts and culture have on our societies. Some countries have clear measures of assessment and know the exact contribution of the cultural sector in their GDP, but some other countries not. And yet it is almost always that Culture is the sector that absorbs most of the cuts when any economic crisis hits the globe.

But the cultural sector is unlike any other sector! When it is hit by a crisis, its impact is multiplied. There is the direct impact, represented in the value generated and jobs supported directly by the arts and cultural organizations. There is also the indirect impact, represented in the value generated and jobs supported in domestic industries that supply goods and services to arts and cultural organizations. And there is the induced impact,represented in the value generated and jobs supported in the wider economy when employees associated to direct and indirect impact spend their earnings in the wider economy.

But that’s not only it! There is also the wider spillover impacts on the economy and the society. Those spillovers include developing the skills of children and young people, encouraging innovation, contributing to the regeneration of areas and destinations, promoting tourism, as well as impact on health, well-being, and education. And not to forget the intrinsic value that we all cherish, which is how arts and culture illuminate our inner lives and enrich our emotional world. The intangible non-measurable and the often-debatable impact that affects our daily flow, but we can’t express it in clear words. This impact that helped us cope and become more resilient during the recent quarantine and lock-down.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 has resulted in a huge disruption in the cultural sector globally. Heritage sites, museums and Theatres closed their doors. Performances, Exhibitions, and cultural events got cancelled. This disruption had immediate social and economic impact on the sector and the wider society including other sectors as well. Responding to the social and economic implications of the pandemic, several governments have announced measures targeted at the whole economy, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, or freelancers and individual entrepreneurs, which are more vulnerable. However, some policy measures specific to the culture sector have been announced or enacted in some countries by ministries of culture and specialized cultural institutions, at the national and local levels - fostering access to culture in confinement and mitigating the economic impact on the sector.

However, a spontaneous reaction of artists, cultural practitioners and even audiences and the wider society, was the increased online and virtual interaction with creative content. Since mid-March 2020, the virtual world with all its platforms, has connected audiences, artists, and venues like never before, dissolved physical borders, and made some sector fundamentals no longer applicable. We realized that cultural sectors across the globe have passed through the same challenges at the same time as if we are a “One Global Cultural Sector”. With that thought and aim, we came together to facilitate the ecosystem for a One Global Cultural Sector” to emerge and develop, through Basita.live.

Basita.live is a virtual venue; an income-generating platform that connects creators, institutions, and theatres, with their audiences virtually and globally. The platform allows artists, performers, institutions and theatres to reach beyond their physical attendance, and still sell their tickets to their audiences world-wide. The platform supports live events – happening in real time – and pre-recorded or achieved content. It also supports all kinds of events and all artistic disciplines, such as film screenings, concerts, theatre performances, workshops, masterclasses, talks and debates, festivals, conferences, virtual tours, and training courses.

Our social realities have changed significantly and so our business models should! Therefore, while we are moving towards a “New Normal” we wanted to ensure a safe landing for culture; for artists to keep creating and for the houses of inspiration to keep musing our lives. We wanted to provide a tool for the sector to be more resilient during such time that is characterized with rapidly changing and unanticipated circumstances. To achieve this goal, we are aware that there are a number of challenges that we plan to address through our community mandate, through building sector resilience, and through meaningful partnerships and collaborations, and with that, we foresee a safe landing for culture!