The Ohio State University Alumni Association

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Pat Kastner

Thinking about arts and culture

How might COVID-19 change us as creators and consumers of culture?

Pat Kastner

Concerts and performances, theaters and museums are where we have gone for centuries to share experiences and hash out emotions — together. But we can’t do that right now. Rachel Skaggs, Lawrence and Isabel Barnett Assistant Professor of Arts Management and a sociologist by training, shared food for thought on how COVID-19 might change us as creators and consumers of culture.

Scarcity breeds creativity.

“When you have constraints, you must be creative. We’re all having to figure out how to cook a meal out of random things, how to exercise, how to entertain children while also holding a job. All of these things are creativity,” Skaggs says. “We’re in our domiciles, so it makes sense that domesticity is emerging from that. We’re literally going down a list of domestic crafts that are coming back, from capturing the wild yeast in one’s home to making kombucha. We’re asking, ‘What else is there to do, in my house, at this moment?’”

Is FOMO over?

“People have tried to live a more simple life enhanced by experiences, which is interesting now that we’re all shut up in our homes. FOMO (fear of missing out) has been huge the last few years. No one’s missing out on anything right now,” Skaggs says. We don’t know how COVID-19 ultimately will affect outings to museums, restaurants and music festivals — or how comfortable we will feel once we are able to go back to our favorite places. “People may change their approach to experience.”

Togetherness creates magic.

“One concept in sociology is collective effervescence, the idea that there is something really special about collective experiences. Think of the amazing, overwhelming feeling of being at a sporting event and having this kind of rush of collective joy or malaise,” Skaggs says. “Collective events or experiences can shape the way we relate to each other.”

Visit virtually

The Wexner Center for the Arts may be closed for now, but you can still get your contemporary art fix at home. Check out (free!) streaming films, artist talks, art tutorials and other ways to fall into a rabbit hole of art.