Arts & Entertainment

Covid-19 exposures are changing our arts community 

Close contacts are in isolation after a COVID-19 case at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital vaccination centre on July 6. Among them is Word Travels Creative Director, Miles Merrill.

Merrill, who is at home with his whole family, gave insight into creative practice of his literary arts organisation during this time. 

“I think the challenge… is that I’m trying to manage five other staff members while trying to manage two children and my partner is working full-time [at home],” Merrill said. 

“For the organisation, last year when COVID hit we had about $30,000 worth of gigs just wiped off the calendar within a week. This year, we’re emailing every stakeholder to say.. ‘What a great opportunity to innovate, it’s all happening on digital.’” 

Though Merrill has been able to offer online workshops during isolation, he is concerned about creative performances in the future. Cancellations and constant digitisation are changing the arts. 

“We’re losing something, I think we took for granted how vital it is to have direct human-to-human communication on a deeper level than just conversation. That communication is the arts.

“We’re not actually replacing what we are missing. We’re coming up with simulations of the same experience and it’s just not the same… It’s not as good,’ Merrill said. 

However, Merrill and his team join with hundreds of Sydney creatives to continue producing arts amidst physical isolation. 

“This morning I did [a workshop for] 96 year five girls in one Zoom session,” he said. “We’re doing four simultaneous workshops with the same school for four different facilitators and that will all be now via Zoom.” 

And despite feeling like he’s “on some sort of hamster wheel” with testing, Merrill stressed the importance of the vaccine. 

By Lucinda Garbutt-Young

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