Using Lockdown

I started lockdown with a string of cancelled jobs… A three-week catalogue shoot, an awards ceremony, Graduate Fashion Week – all gone. I, like most people in artistic industries, felt a deep sense of catastrophe, and then I spiralled. All those people who, for years, had told me – don’t go into the arts, there is no security, it doesn’t pay enough, you’ll end up unemployed; it seemed they’d all been proven right.

After I’d pulled myself together, I realised quite quickly that things were far less dire than they seemed. (Don’t get me wrong, the arts are in crisis, but that’s a whole other conversation). Fran and I had an idea, a good idea, and that is always a brilliant place to start. Medea was ready to be revived in a new form, nearly two years on, and we finally had the time to work on it.

We were lucky enough to receive the necessary funding from the Humanities Cultural Programme to write a ‘blueprint’ script, and collaborate with incredible academics and theatre-makers to really get the project going. Now, eight months on, we have received Arts Council funding, found international collaborators, and have many things in the pipeline.

We now find ourselves in another lockdown, with this déjà vu causing similar anxieties and questions to arise. There are, however, things that can be done in a lockdown, and we plan to use what we learnt the first time round to make this even more productive. So, here is some (unsolicited) advice for young creatives trying to make things work during lockdown…

  1. People are available in a lockdown, much more available than they are normally outside of a lockdown. We have managed to speak to some big names simply because they had a few more hours free than normal to pick up the phone.
  2. Send emails, and a lot of them. It would be impossible to count the amount of emails we have sent these past months, the majority of which were unanswered. You never know, however, when you’ll be in luck…
  3. There is funding out there! Not only are we lucky enough in this country to have the Arts Council (which currently has funds open for ‘Project Grants’ and ‘Developing Your Creative Practice’), there are also lots of small funds out there that all add up in the long term.
  4. Focus on building relationships. No one is going to sign on to a project long term right now, or pour in thousands of pounds to a potential show next year. This is an invaluable time, nonetheless, to build relationships and dialogues with people who you can then reach out to again when things hopefully return to ‘normal’ (whatever that will mean). Theatres like Tara Arts, Eclipse, The Young Vic (and many more) have networks already that you can join too.
  5. Do the groundwork. Especially for you producers out there, there is so much paperwork, and correspondence, and administration that you will eventually have to get done when putting on a show, this is the time you can get a lot of it you can get done in advance. Do the boring stuff that often gets left till the last minute.

This is a tough time for all of us, but it’s also a great opportunity to make efficient use of the time we’ve been given. The likelihood is, like most of us, you’re doing a million small jobs to keep yourself afloat. But, if you’ve got time spare, reach out, build networks, and use this time to put you in the best position when things do return. And they will!

medea actress of colour in a red top, surrounded by the chorus wearing black clothes. All have tribal patterns on left hand of face in white