Text by Bernadette Gallagher

Can you think of a time in recent history when Hollywood was so quiet? When Broadway was shut down? When musicians ceased to put out new releases? When arts and music festivals around the world were canceled simultaneously? It appeared at first glance the art world had gone dark. Fear not, like many artists, from musicians and DJs, to designers, models, actors, and actresses, as well as museums and galleries, have quickly adapted. The world of art is coping and reacting in different ways with isolation and social distancing:


Among the actors, actresses, musicians and models who have donated large sums to non-profit organizations in need are Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, Justin Beiber, Ciara and Russell Wilson, Lady Gaga and Haus Laboratories, Kristen Bell, and possibly many more who have not shared their charitable acts. The notable thing about these celebrities sharing their efforts with the world is their encouragement for others who are also in a comfortable financial situation to do the same.

A second prominent action comes from major fashion and cosmetic lines, who have not only donated dollars, but also who have transformed their factories to now produce hospital gowns, face masks, hand sanitizer, and gloves: LVMH (owns Louis Vuitton, Dior, and more); Christian Siriano; Canada Goose; Prada; and Kering (owns Balenciaga, Gucci, and Saint Laurent), just to name a few.

Representatives for self-isolation and social distancing

And while many of these artists are sharing the message to give what you can in this important time, many are employing their fame in order to reach out to their millions of followers with messages of the WHO. Justin Trudeau kicked off a chain of celebrity video messages by nominating celebs such as Seth Rogen, Justin Long, Ryan Reynolds and Michael Bublé, to promote social distancing, hand washing and keeping the hands off the face.

But the most rapidly evolving response from the art world is in the form of “going digital” or “going virtual.”

Going virtual with their art

Broadway HD

This is the Netflix for live theatre (can stream from any device, no ads, low monthly subscription cost with free 7 day trial period) where you can choose to stream from multiple categories, like Shakespeare, Classics, Foreign, and even Documentaries. Broadway HD has been around since 2015, but in the eve of Broadway officially shutting down on March 12th, the service has added tons more content and kindly introduced the free 7 day trial.

Virtual Museum Tours

Many museums and art galleries, from the Smithsonian to the Guggenheim, have historically offered digital tours and virtual experiences. But as many close their doors, many are seeing a massive jump in digital users, prompting them to solely focus on their digital content and experiences.

Amsterdam’s Van Goh Museum sadly shuttered its doors to the public amid the Corona Virus outbreak, and is forecasting a June 1st reopen. But, with this, the museum also launched Museum at home, which not only includes a 4k video tour, but also interactive sections aimed at keeping children educated and entertained.

Virtual Concerts

Beyond Wonderland Virtual Rave-a-Thon: after learning of a likely further delay of Beyond Wonderland SoCal, Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella quickly organized a virtual rave. DJs performed their sets amidst a backdrop of Wonderland props, lasers, strobes and coloured lights, and were all completed with a full sanitization of all equipment. The event drew in ~3.5 million viewers of all ages and prompted more than a few isolated living room dance parties. 3

There will be more: Not only has Rotella announced there will more Virtual Rave-a-Thons, but other artists have come virtually come together to provide more live music: James Corden will host HomeFest, with remote performances by Billie Eilish and Finneas, John Legend, Andrea Boccelli, and BTS,4; and, iHeart Radio has teamed up with FOX to present the Living Room Concert, hosted by Elton John, and with performances by The Backstreet Boys, Billie Eilish, Mariah Carey, and more.  Both concerts will also be raising money for COVID-19 efforts.

And stay tuned to your favourite artists’ social media: many are performing live on the daily through their Instagram stories, and are doing so in a much different format than we are accustomed to: with less production, but with more raw creativity.

I encourage you to start looking for your favorite artists and genres (from all media) to see how they, or their museums and galleries, have responded.

The arts help us see the world through the eyes and voices of many, and with social media and global streaming, we turn that many into millions upon millions. It is beyond interesting to witness the arts world adapt and evolve so they may bring us the arts and their perspectives of the unprecedented situation we find ourselves in today.