The Actions of Artists in the Covid-19 Pandemic

Uniting Voices Worldwide to Eliminate Violence Against Women 2020

A Discussion and Call to Action on the Pandemic’s Impact on Women and Girls

November 24, 2020

By Lynn Dykstra, international professional photographer, founder of Our Global Cry for Freedom, and United Nations representative and civil society outreach director of Women’s Freedom Forum.

Thank you, Antonia.  And welcome to each of you.

You know – Creativity is a universal human right.  It is part of who we are.  The Covid Pandemic is causing us to reach for that creativity in ways we never believed possible.

Artists and skilled crafts-persons in all parts of the world are hit HARD by the economic, social and cultural effects of this Pandemic.  Yet, in the artists’ spirit of heart-felt energy, their silence is non-existent.  They are finding ways and means to help others, to create art and bring awareness to the issues of violence against women and girls.  There are collaborative efforts of world-wide organizations as well as individual acts of support. 

For example, in cooperation with UNESCO, the European Union and United Nations’ “Spotlight Initiative”, a national art competition called “SHEROS” is currently underway in Nigeria.  Its purpose is to bring awareness to Violence Against Women and Girls through visions and expressions of painting and poetry.

And in El Salvador the United Nation’s Spotlight Initiative uses art and theatre to help youth understand and support elimination of violence against women and girls.

The UNESCO Office of the Gulf States and Yemen and their partner “Zee Arts” have a web-based program encouraging and supporting Women Artists in Gulf State countries to share their experiences and their work during this lockdown.  The upside of this is an expanded visual audience and its ability to encourage and support.

The International Organization for Migration and the European Union created an outlet for young women and men artists in Dakar, Senegal to paint over graffiti-filled walls with spectacular messages of color, form and design worthy of an exhibition showing.  The messages raise awareness.

One of the most heartfelt, but not surprising, discoveries is how independent artists who, in many cases, are barely holding on economically, still reach out to help others.  

In the United States, an art therapist in Chicago created a program called Connected While Apart to continue the art therapy for her domestic violence support group during the pandemic.  She usually meets with them in person.

During recent National Domestic Abuse Awareness Month businesses in Rockland, Maine partnered with Maine artists to display their work to spread awareness of domestic violence and abuse.  An online auction benefited Finding Our – to bring awareness – and support the survival and healing of domestic violence victims.

The volunteer work of the NYC Theatrical Wardrobe Union Local 764, IATSE where 72 percent of their members are skilled craftswomen cannot go unnoticed.  They are part of the thousands and thousands of artists and skilled women and men whose jobs and creative outlets are on pandemic-hold in the entire NYC Theatre community.  Early on, Local 764 Members began designing and sewing masks and other needed PPE by the thousands for women’s domestic abuse and homeless shelters around the city.  

This kind of support is happening in rural and urban communities all over the world.   Artists are known for reaching out to help.  This is not surprising; just joyful. 

The pandemic has wrecked horrible havoc on so many lives world-wide. 

Artists are breaking the pandemic’s silence and reaching out.  We honor them and those who support them.  We are grateful for the heart-inspired encouragement and the vision of a bright light shining through this dark pandemic cloud.

I encourage each of you to stay safe, remain well, and most importantly use your own human right of creativity to help each other and yourselves.  

And we will get through this together – world-wide! 

Thank you.

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