By Dan Ayer, Co-Founder, Oyster Creative Co.
Think back to March 2020 (yea, sorry made myself nauseous there, too).
At the very beginning of the pandemic. When the news became too dark. When you couldn’t refresh the Johns Hopkins COVID tracker for the 973rd time. When you needed to escape people wondering what the “new normal” would be like.
Where did you turn?
If you are anything like me it wasn’t where you turned, but what you turned — more specifically — turned on.
TV: Netflix. Hulu. Apple+. Amazon Prime. HBO Max. I even heard rumors that some people watched basic cable in the early days of the pandemic.
No, this isn’t a post to the Golden Age of TV. Or even one bemoaning how many books I could have read instead of rewatching nine seasons How I Met Your Mother in just three months (again, 2020 was a dark time).
Instead this post is about something essential that many of us overlooked.
At a time when so many of us wanted to escape our world — TV, films, books — the Arts allowed us to do just that.
Writers, costume & set designers, directors, actors, signers, dancers, production teams, and the many more who are on-camera and off provided us with a chance to forget about masks, hospitalizations, vaccinations and more.
Unfortunately, we only were able to see most of these folks on the screens in our homes during the pandemic. But they all honed their craft on stages, studios, and workshops. These artists played a pivotal role in keeping us safe — and sane.
And while it was the compassion, talent, skill and hard work of our doctors, nurses, scientists and frontline workers that helped us survive the past two years, it makes me think a lot about a Walt Whitman quote.
(Ok, I’ll be honest it makes me think of the Robin Williams speech from Dead Poets Society, but I have to show off my English degree every once in awhile).
Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”
Medicine, science, and the will of so many caregivers and frontline workers gave us all a chance to pause and heal.
And that’s exactly what so many of our artists and performers were forced to take. As a former theater kid, I’ll give you a little secret backstage intel. An intermission in theater isn’t a break. It’s a chance to reset and prepare for the next act.
That’s why I’m so excited about our latest campaign.
We are working with the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council to help #RestarttheArtsPGH in Pittsburgh.
The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council represents hundreds of local artists and venues who have been preparing for a chance at their next act.
During the month of September, many are taking to the streets to perform and provide free ice cream to the audiences as a part of the Artsmobile. It’s a chance to safely share their talents and get people excited about safely returning to the Arts — in person.
Throughout my life — and the pandemic — the arts have provided me with an escape from tough times, entertainment in good ones, and inspiration during both.
Whether you picked up chess after The Queen’s Gambit, took on a Mr. Rogers approach to sports thanks to Theodore Lasso, or just chose the comfort your friends from The Office when you couldn’t be in your own, you owe a debt a gratitude to the Arts.
So, I hope you’ll buy a ticket and join me for their next act.
Learn more and get those tickets at https://www.artsburgh.org/.